CeBIT 2006: Origami

Microsoft's mystery project unfolds...

Uncovering the newest and most interesting products at CeBIT can be a lot like searching for a needle in a haystack. Thankfully in the case of Microsoft’s long awaited Origami project every idiot knew to put a big red cross on the company’s booth in Hall 4, Stand A38.


As stories have been leaking all over the web during our German jaunt many of you may already have some vague understanding of what Origami is, but here’s the low down. Contrary to the beliefs of millions of Japanese over thousands of years Origami is not the art of folding paper into decorative shapes, but in fact a new mobile form PC factor.

Now the shroud is off the official name is Ultra Mobile PC or UMPC and it can essentially be described as a reduced size tablet computer. Microsoft is using its UMPC as a standard for other manufacturers to adhere to (hence the Samsung label on the photos above and below) and it dictates a number of hardware prerequisites:

• A screen size of 20cm

• Touch Sensitive

• 800 x 480 minimum resolution

• Windows based operating system

• Minimum 1GHz CPU, 256 RAM, 30GB HDD

• USB2.0 and wireless

In addition, Ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity is all recommended with the spec open to the inclusion of GPS, webcams, TV tuners, fingerprint and memory card readers. Initial prices are expected to be between $599 and $999 but Microsoft wants vendors to have these down to $500 sooner rather than later. Battery life on the first models are expected to last around 2.5 hours but again Microsoft wants this eventually increased to eight.

Keeping with habit during CeBIT, Samsung was again the first company out the blocks. Its premier UMPC is called the Q1 and measures just 22.7 x 13.9 x 2.65cm and weighs 779g. It is powered by a Celeron M ULV processor, has 512MB RAM, a 40GB HDD and 802.11b/g as well as GPS and DMB options.


Naturally a 20cm touch screen is a the centre of things and a ‘Touch Pack’ edition of Windows XP (designed by Microsoft to make it more touch screen friendly) is pre-installed. Samsung promises a 3.5 hour battery life for the Q1, though pricing and availability have yet to be finalised.

I managed to get a little hands on time with the Q1 and found it to be remarkably intuitive to use. It was a shame Samsung had decided to bolt its models to the stand as I couldn’t get a feel for the new form factor’s weight and portability but it definitely has appeal.

Asus, builder of absolutely everything, and little known companies Founder and TabletKiosk have all confirmed they have UMPC standard devices in the mix so we hope to bring you more soon.

If I have a disappointment with the project it is simply losing the aura that ‘Origami’ had built. The hype and speculation had become so varied that the kid in me was hoping for something more than an model 01+ rival. I’m not sure what I expected – flying car, X-ray specs, miniature jet pack? – but perhaps more than the evolution of a format OQO has already brought us.

That said I want one… ”don’t you?”

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