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Here it comes, Origami Round 2



We are all expecting to see a lot of Ultra-Mobile PC / Origami news coming out of CES in January. When the Origami was launched in March of 2006, we were all told that the first year was expected to be a learning experience in what customers really wanted in a UMPC device and how they would use it. Battery life, price, and keyboards have been the real buzzwords when it comes to what has been lacking. Hopefully, 2007 will be a year that begins to change that.

Ina Fried, of ZDNet, does a good job of recapping this past year, and looking forward to what CES might unveil in terms of new Ultra-Mobile PC devices.

Next month, at CES, Microsoft will be back with another round of the tiny computers. The latest tablets, code-named Vistagami because of their Windows Vista support, also will come in a wider range of looks, including some models with keyboards. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is expected to mention some of the new devices in his CES keynote as part of a broader discussion of the new types of computers that will be enabled with Vista, including new all-in-one PCs and other esoteric designs.

According to Ida, there are also plans to introduce a new touch experience for Origami devices.

The first devices are likely to start shipping when Vista goes on sale at the end of the month. For its part, Microsoft plans at CES to show off the updated Origami software it has for Vista. The “touch pack,” as the software is known, aims to make Windows more manageable on a device that typically has a screen smaller than 7 inches. Among the additions for Vista is a customized version of the operating system’s built-in Windows Photo Gallery that’s easy to navigate through touch.

Microsoft’s Mika Krammer, whom I have interviewed on, tells us to expect a lot of emphasis on slide-out keyboards:

While much of the focus remains on touch-screen abilities, Microsoft is also making way for keyboards, noting that they have become increasingly popular even on smaller devices, such as cell phones.

“There’s a lot of emphasis on slide-out keyboards for the newer (devices) you will see at launch,” Krammer said.

In addition to looking at the Ultra-Mobile PC, Ida interviews TabletKiosks’ Gail Levy with a look at what TabletKiosk has in store for CES as well.

TabletKiosk, one of the early Origami makers, is planning a Vista-based device eventually, but is focused at CES on introducing a more rugged version of its Windows XP-based minitablet. While many of the initial Origami designs were aimed at consumers, TabletKiosk focuses on business uses.

“For our vertical markets, it’s what they are looking for…because of the wear and tear these machines get,” said TabletKiosk marketing director Gail Levy. The new model will still weigh in at less than 2 pounds and is smaller, but slightly thicker, than the company’s existing minitablets. The new model, which will be shown off at CES, uses a Via processor and also boasts the addition of a PC card slot, which customers have been wanting as a way to add a cellular connection.

As for Vista, “a lot of our business is in the enterprise market.” Levy said. “They are not asking for it just yet.”

A 2 lb rugged minitablet that has pc card slot? Sounds very, very interesting. Can’t wait to learn more.

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