March 9, 2006 7:17 AM PST

Manufacturers unwrap first ultramobile PCs

HANNOVER, Germany--Intel lifted the lid on Microsoft's Origami project on Thursday by showing off three ultramobile PC devices at the CeBit trade show here.

As expected, one of the UMPCs was manufactured by Samsung Electronics. The others were built by Asus and Founder Group, a Chinese technology company.

Ultramobile PCs

But it appears that significantly more work will have to be done before UMPCs are ready for the mass market. Pankaj Kedia, Intel's manager for low-power Internet access marketing, told ZDNet UK that these first devices have a battery life of between two and three hours, depending on whether they are used to play video.

And while the Samsung and Founder devices were operational and being used to play video at CeBit, the Asus UMPC--the R2H--appeared to have run out of power.

Intel's general manager for Europe, Christian Morales, told a crowded press conference at CeBit that UMPC devices represented the start of a new form factor for the PC industry. He also promised that Intel would help make UMPCs much more efficient over the next few years. "We have plans over the next five years to deliver a 10fold improvement in power usage," he said.

All three UMPCs on show had touch-sensitive color screens, measuring 7 inches across diagonally. They support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and have two USB ports. They weigh just less than a kilogram (2.2 pounds), with hard drives of 30GB to 60GB, and run on Intel's existing ultralow-power Pentium and Celeron chips.

Samsung's device, called the Q1, is scheduled to launch in May this year, costing about $1,190 (1,000 euros).

Bill Mitchell, Microsoft's vice president for mobile platforms, joined Morales on stage and demonstrated that the UMPCs ran Windows XP Tablet PC edition, with the addition of a piece of software called the Touch Pack, providing an innovative on-screen keyboard that lets people type with their thumbs.

"We've been working very hard for five years to leverage the full power of the Windows XP Tablet (PC platform)," said Mitchell. He showed that UMPCs would include modified versions of Internet Explorer, OneNote and Windows Media Player.

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from Hannover, Germany. ZDNet UK's Charles McLellan contributed to this report.

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23 comments

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I'm sure these will be a hit...
(rolls eyes)

Talk about a device looking for something to do.

I've seen handhelds with all this stuff glommed on that work
well.

I've seen ultraportables that do more, better.

It's nice to see my pet theory confirmed - Microsoft just plain
has no idea what people want, do they? I mean, I can just hear
the meeting in Redmond now: "Hey, let's come up with a new
platform! That'll get Windows' market penetration up another
couple of points!"
Posted by Hep Cat (440 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What the...?????
So, first, why do these all seem to look like something I've seeen
sitting in on the CompUSA handheld electronics aisle for the last
two years?

Second, who are these supposed to appeal to? I can possibly see
some manufaturing use, perhaps in a hospital context, but
mainstream? It just isn't appealing, in my opinion.

They're all too bulky. The reported battery lives are, for lack of a
better word, crap given the form factor. And, it's only jump over
smartphones and PDAs seems to be that it runs a full form
version of Windows... whooopppeeee... NOT!

I'm just not seeing what everyone is so EXCITED about regarding
Origami.

Ciao!

PS - I almost forgot, the car set-up picture... that is so
astoundingly ridiculous as a setup anyone would use.
Posted by plaidpjs (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I would use it
Honestly I think it will be a hit. I used all PDA's and only the Blackberry and the new Windows Mobile 5 devices with wireless email are useful. I hate inputing anything into PDA and if I have to read anything more than a simple email....I need a bigger screen.

Word...Excel and powerpoint on a PDA is a joke. On this new device I could actually use it...read them and input into them with a keyboard. I imagine taking them to a meeting instead of my binder...any documents I need for the meeting...NOT printed out and in a electronic form I can actually read with out scrolling every second.

If I need to present.....plug it into the projector and fire up power point on it.

At home it would be a great way to get to the internet when not next to a desktop PC and with out hauling around a laptop.

Its to early to pass judgement on the hardware setups. If they become popular Dell...HP...even Apple will probably make one. Each with their own distinctive hardware options. I am sure there will be lots of Car options from vendors...I imagine a docking station that you see no wires at all in your can...all hidden in the mounting arm like current I-pod options....coupled with GPS, Charging and intergration into your stero system...."Turn Left at the next street":)
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
movies, web surfing, gps
"it's only jump over smartphones and PDAs seems to be that it runs a full form version of Windows"

If all you want is a smartphone, by all means use a smartphone. But the larger form factor allows for 4x the screen area of a pocket pc (even more relative to a smartphone), which makes it a lot better for some tasks.

Why squint and watch movies on a phone when you can watch them on a much more comfortable 7" screen? And while you can look at tiny GPS maps on a smartphone, you'll be able to see a lot more with one of these devices.

Why scroll through tiny views of a web page, when you view them at a more-comfortable 800 pixels wide? And PDF files (if you can even view them), word documents and spreadsheets are even worse than web pages.

The battery life is horrible, and the first-gen devices are way too expensive. But the form factor seems like a really solid idea.
Posted by wanorris (226 comments )
Link Flag
Really Not Anything New
The OQO (OQO.com) is a 4x6" device that runs Windows XP and has full PC functionality. It has probably been on the market for about 2 years, and seems to be absolutely everything that these ultramobile PC's claim to be.
Does anyone know what makes them new or different?
Posted by rsx10 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Price
I never saw that product before, but I love the design. However their price is very high. I like the keyboard built in, I think it's funny that Microsoft couldn't even make a design better then OQO with all their money, and someone to copy!
Posted by hugh dunnit (35 comments )
Link Flag
What I want in a UMPC
I want something that is ultra-mobile and as functional as my current notebook, not a souped up PDA which is what this sounds like.

So here is what I would need:

1. Processor capable of a decent speed.
2. 512-1gb RAM
3. 60-80GB Hard Drive
4. External CD-rw or DVD-rw, internal would work too but because of the formfactor doubtful.
5. XP Tablet Edition
6. VGA or DVI output (I cannot beleive neither has this, cause I cant connect my monitor via usb!)
Posted by pmfjoe (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hello??????????????????
Everyone seems to think that these devices are only form factor it will come in.

Think windows mobile PDA's....every vendor has different spin on them. HP Windows mobile PDA's come with keboards on some...some have a slide out keyboard some have no keyboard at all. Dell has their own...Asus....etc.

I imagine dozen different flavors of this thing...all with the same basic internal hardware...cpu...video, ram and hd....with all kinds of external options.

Wake up for second and think about it.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
Fujitsu Lifebook P1510D
A Fujitsu P1510D is probably more plausible as a lightweight notebook replacement -- it's not quite as small as the new ultra-mobile PCs, but it's close. It has an 8.9" 1024x600 screen, weighs 2.2 to 2.5 pounds, and is a convertable, so you can flip it around and use the keyboard.

1.2GHz Pentium M
up to 60 GB HDD
up to 1 GB RAM
external CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive available
VGA Out: up to 1600x1200 resolution

They start under $1500.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://store.shopfujitsu.com/fpc/Ecommerce/buildseriesbean.do?series=P15D" target="_newWindow">http://store.shopfujitsu.com/fpc/Ecommerce/buildseriesbean.do?series=P15D</a>
Posted by wanorris (226 comments )
Link Flag
Fantastic!!
I want one :-)the Asus one looks nice.
Posted by (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Whats So cool About it
Well , Nokia 770 is much cooler in looks and functionality compared to the UMPC. only thing is it runs on WinXp and has PC Architecture, we we dont care about what it runs on or what architechture it has, if it has functionalites well then thats all the customer needs.
Posted by morbidsaint (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Does "modified" programs mean crippled, extra development?
I thought the whole advantage of an Origami / UMPC (there's an
acronym no one will love) was that it ran all your standard XP
programs.

If it seems they have to be enhanced to work effectively on the
tablet, then why not just go with a PDA or smart phone which
has the software built from the ground up for the device?

Even at best, it's a case of "IE for UMPC: a whole new set of
security holes, which will be patched as quickly as we patched
the Tablet PC's pen digitizer memory leak."
Posted by dotmike (154 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mostly just UI affordances
My impression is that any required software changes will be cosmetic, not functional. This means the apps shouldn't be crippled or expose additional security holes, if done even remotely right. I would expect that some apps would be optimized for use without a keyboard or for the 800x480 screen, but not much beyond that.

And it's still XP that it's running, so the full version of most anything should run on it as long as the screen resolution is supported.
Posted by wanorris (226 comments )
Link Flag
It's all about the battery life!
It doesnt matter how whiz bang minaturised the UMPC is, it counts for nought if it doesn't have long battery life. How many of us are constantly watching the battery meter when we do our jobs? Rushing to get things done before the system shutsdown. MS and co should pour more $$$ into battery development to produce day (week?) long battery life.
Posted by vunny (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Did you see the price tag?
"Samsung's device, called the Q1, is scheduled to launch in May
this year, costing about $1,190 (1,000 euros)."

That's the main deal breaker. The highest estimate of price
Microsoft leaked was $899. No way are most people going to pay
nearly $1,200 for a glorified PDA.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How I wish FlipStart...
... just goes commercial with:

- Windows Vista + Windows Tablet + Windows Mobile
- Colored LID (perfect for digi-cam previews)
- Auxilliary memory drives
- TV/radio tuner/reception
- Better battery life

Sigh...
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
All UMPCs need an interactive speech interface
I can imagine this portable computer with a talkingdesktop interface software and a headset.

This would allow me to leave my regular desktop behind and let me control a mobile computer with speech recognition and then listen to it talk back as I am walking around.

Maybe this device will really show the benefit of an interactive software interface.
www.talkingdesktop.com
Deb
Posted by debH (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One basic problem.....
.... no one has cracked the voice recognition problem yet, much
less developed an intelligent read back capability.

The best voice recognition program still is a waveform pattern
matching process which needs serious training by the user. And
that training is woefully inadequate for any normal human speech
patterns.

HAL still exists only in the imagination.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Perhaps...but you would be surprised
Its true that speech recognition has had a long and difficult road, waiting for computer power to catch up to speech software's need for CPU power.

Microsoft's engines were not very good several years ago but they have continued to improve and are quite good now. Fortunately MS continues pushing development in this area.

Recent interactive software programs like the one I mentioned are based on Microsoft engines and
taking avantage of MS improvements. The speech recognition is actually quite good and the talking back features make your computer alot more fun than just having your computer sit on your desk like a lump of metal.

Deb
Posted by debH (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is still nothing more....
... than wave form pattern matching, Maybe with the current fast
processors, it will work well enough for some people, But it not
really voice recognition.

When MS, or anyone else, can actually do audio feature extraction,
then voice recognition actually begins. Until then, brute force and
awkwardness can get the job done to a degree, but not with any
pride of technology.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
I LIKE THE IDEA, HOPEFULLY IT WILL TAKE OFF!
I think that's it's time, but we will see... computers will be mobile eventually and why not now?

--

Everybody knows about Google, now it's time for everybody to know about <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.enthem.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.enthem.com</a>"
Posted by stansoft (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Its not a iPod killer
The price is to high and it runs XP so itunes runs just fine on it, its
the only way for MS to have a portable player that is iTunes
compatible. :-)
Posted by Peter Bonte (316 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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