The last few weeks, rumors have been running rampant on the blogosphere (really, the entire Internet) about a brand new device that will be loaded with a Microsoft operating system. Whether or not Redmond is orchestrating this buzz is beyond me, but the speculation up to this point does have me very interested. Code named The Origami Project, Microsoft has created some of this hype with a cryptic web-site which strings us along for another week before making a ‘formal’ announcement. Others have found a ‘missing link’ to Microsoft’s hints that pretty much seals the deal, provided by the other half of the Win-tel relationship – Intel. Origami, or UMPC (or whatever you want to call it) looks like a very intriguing new approach to mobile computing. If the rumors prove correct, then this new gadget will essentially be a more mobile Tablet PC (running Windows XP for Tablets) and have multimedia capabilities. The leaked commercial developed by Digital Kitchen validates as much. While there are other small tablet driven computers out there, as Dennis Rice reminds us, this one would truly be aimed at the broader consumer market. Again, if the new devices live up to the hype (and projected price range of approximately $700), I think Origami has huge implications for a lot of folks beyond the assumed target of college age users as the early buzz portrays. The possibilities beyond that core target market seem a bit vague at the moment. What I hope it doesn’t become is a modern day version of the Apple Newton.
So what can Origami do for me?
As many of you know, I switched to a tablet PC (the Toshiba M200 convertible) about two years ago and now can’t imagine working without the capability to ink. Along with a regimented approach to scanning documents into Microsoft OneNote and note-taking in the same application, I’ve been able to slim down my mobile experience substantially. No longer do I carry around folders full of handouts and notepads, with the rare exception of a backup Moleskine notebook. All-in-all this has been a very nice arrangement, but in recent months I’ve begun to rethink my approach a bit. One of the ideas I’ve been toying with is replacing my convertible with an even smaller slate type computer (the Motion Computing LS800 comes to mind). The logic goes like this: I’ve got a powerful desktop computer in my office, an even more powerful one at home, and when I’m on the move, I’m more apt to use my convertible PC in tablet mode than with the keyboard exposed. My Toshiba is great in this mode, but I’d like something more portable…something that could rival the size of the Moleskine. This would not serve as my primary computer, at the same time it would give me greater capabilities than my Treo 650. This device should have enough computing power that I could run the Microsoft Office suite, while remaining compact enough to carry around like a medium-sized paperback book. The LS800 surely fits the requirements, as does the OQO, but I couldn’t imagine spending $2,000 for a portable tablet. The Origami device is being pitched at a more palatable price range. From what Scoble is hinting, Origami will be an entirely new category of devices. Could this be the device that I’ve been hoping for? Well, we’ll all learn on this Thursday….stay tuned.