Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

MSFT's Origami: Converges all the disadvantages of a PDA and Notebook

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 9, 2006

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Origami Turkey.gifMicrosoft's Origami device is trying to exploit a new form factor, similar to OQO. The size of the device is larger than a PDA and smaller than a notebook.(See Engadget.)

Microsoft has managed to produce a product that combines all the disadvantages of a PDA and a notebook with none of their advantages.

A PDA such as my Treo fits in my pocket has very long battery life, has a cell phone, a camera and a touch screen and has my calendar, email and contacts database.

My three-year old 12 inch IBM ThinkPad X31 is lightweight, has a good keyboard, has decent battery life of nearly 4 1/2 hours, and is my main and only system.

Combine the two and you get Origami, a form factor that is too small for a keyboard, won't fit into a pocket, has a battery life half that of my notebook, and at a price similar to a notebook. And it doesn't have a cell phone. Brilliant.

My ideal ultraportable computing device would have a 12 inch screen as in my ThinkPad, have 12-hour battery life, have a touchscreen, have ubiquitous wi-fi, it runs on a simple microprocessor, doesn't require Windows, and I have access to all my information and applications on any device. It all lives in the cloud but uses AJAX-based technologies to bring things down to my client should my wi-fi connection be interrupted or unavailable--but all this is done seamlessly, and transparently.

I can record voice notes on the device, take photos, video, I can tag my geographic location with my notes (great restaurant, order the wings) I can throw all my personal data into the device, maybe even record every minute of my life - and retrieve it later through search algorithms that become tuned to me and my habits. All for $300.

I described something like this last year calling it a portable wiki or a Walkabout Wiki. It would be so durable and robust that you can play Frisbee with it, with your dog, and it would still work: dog slobber and all :-)

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