For weeks, gadget lovers have been dreaming of Origami--and they've been dreaming big. CNET News.com got the chance to tinker with a few prototypes of the highly anticipated series of devices expected from Intel and Microsoft today at the Intel Developer Forum. Hoping for one portable machine that could handle video, audio, photos, word processing, games and Web access, many technophiles were disappointed with what we saw. And if Microsoft is working toward a device like this, it's taking baby steps to get there.
More details will come to light Thursday at CeBIT in Germany. But today's prototypes feature 7-inch touch screens, x86 processors and weigh 2 pounds. But Microsoft is readjusting expectations on price, saying they'll come in under $1,000 (not the $500 goal they had previously set). And the devices have a battery life of only about three hours, not exactly the all-day-on-the-road action some were hoping for. Intel showed off a prototype of a device with a swivel-out keyboard that may ship in the future, but the first-generation version won't have that feature.
Online reaction to these prototypes shows the blog world is unimpressed. Microsoft's Robert Scoble yesterday posted a list of gadgets that Origami would not replace. Among them, the iPod, PSP, Treo and Palm. But bloggers today were largely asking what exactly it would be good for. It's too big to replace a PDA, but likely not powerful enough to replace a notebook. And it doesn't take much digging to see how disappointed bloggers are with the prototype's aesthetics. There's already a cry for Steve Jobs and Co. to give a device like this the Apple design touch.
Blog community response:
"Pah! I've had such a device for 2 years. Seriously, it looks great--but I can't see why this is being seen as a 'new thing.' Small form-factor devices have been around for years."
--:Ben Metcalfe Blog
"The real news here is probably that Microsoft has developed a version of Windows XP (the ??Origami?? name comes from Microsoft??s work, we gather) that works with the new Intel hardware to provide long battery life. That sounds great, guys. Could we get that in a laptop?"
"Hasn't MS learned anything from Apple in the last few years...Your products NEED to be sexy! This thing is far from anything close to sexy...it would have been sexy in...you know, 1990!"
"But it just looks too big compared to my Treo that can do email and web and the rest. And it seems too underpowered to be a laptop replacement."