Electronic Design

Microsoft Unfolds Origami At CeBIT

It’s finally here, and it’s more than a paper swan. Microsoft revealed the details of its top-secret Origami project at this month’s CeBIT show in Hannover, Germany, and fans of on-the-go technology should be pleased. Powered by the Windows XP Tablet PC operating system, the Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC) offers full functionality in a 2-lb device that’s the size of a paperback book.

Users can operate the UMPC through the 7-in. diagonal touchscreen and a stylus. The UMPC’s Touch Pack software simplifies navigation by organizing applications by customizable categories that can be accessed through large on-screen icons and buttons. Touch Pack also offers a thumb-based, on-screen keyboard for easy input. Or, users can plug in a keyboard via the device’s USB port or Bluetooth connectivity.

Hardware designs will vary by manufacturer. Typical battery life will be two-and-a-half hours or more. UMPC devices will offer 30 to 60 Gbytes of hard-drive storage with Intel Celeron M, Intel Pentium M, or VIA C7-M processors. Models may vary with features like GPS, webcams, fingerprint readers, digital TV tuners, and compact flash and SD card readers.

The UMPC’s chief feature is its wireless connectivity. It’s compatible with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet networks. Some models will be able to connect to wide-area networks as well. So, users will be able to access the Internet, e-mail, and instant messaging from wherever. They also will be able to synchronize their UMPCs with their desktop PCs, taking files, documents, and even music and movies just about anywhere.

Founder, Samsung, and Asus have lined up to manufacture UMPCs. Models should appear in the second quarter of this year. Prices should range from $599 to $999. Future models will run Windows Vista.


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