Thursday, March 09, 2006

Will the gadget formally known as Origami fly?

As technology market watchers digested all the bits and bytes associated with the new Microsoft UltraMobile PC formerly known as Origami, the buzz in the blogosphere gave a decidedly mixed outlook for the device.

Many agree that with cell phones, iPods, the Sony PlayStation Portable, and PDAs becoming more powerful and multifunctional themselves, Microsoft is stepping into the risky business of introducing yet another portable gizmo.

While many also question whether the product improves upon existing tablets in the marketplace today others dwelled on more immediate issues such as the low battery life of some of the first machines to market.

"I was really excited by the possibility until I saw the three hour battery life. This cripples the entire project, in my opinion, because it dictates how you use it. Unless you can reliably use it whenever you feel like it during the day without having to monitor battery life continuously or worry about it pooping out on you it's effectively tied to outlets (car, office, etc)," said one comment on technology news site Slashdot.

Another questioned: "Are these nothing more than smaller tablet PCs? I just assumed Origami was a bigger deal than that, considering all the hype."

"Over-hyped yes, but this will still have a niche of practical applications. First, it runs standard XP, which means you can now have your standard business applications in a smaller form factor," was one response.

An article on technology website CNET found the first generation of devices were "bigger, pricier and more power hungry than the software maker had hoped", and analysts predict it may take at least another two years before the product gains market traction.

"I don't think it'll flame out, but I don't think it'll take off until 2008," said Samir Bhavnani, analyst at Current Analysis.

Andy Woo, PC analyst at Gartner Australia said on top of the hardware issues such as short battery life, the longterm success of the devices also hinged on their "coolness factor". "To be honest that's not really the forte of Microsoft," he said.


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