Now that Microsoft finally released details behind its secretive Origami mini-tablet project, News.com's Ina Fried reports that Intel is poised to take the wraps off of its contribution to the project (Inteligami is just my mashup of the two words) today at the Intel Developer Forum.
In a preview of Tuesday afternoon's demonstration, Intel Marketing Director Brad Graff showed CNET News.com several of the Ultra Mobile PC devices, including an example of the kind of hardware that will ship in the next few weeks as part of the Microsoft effort....As earlier reported, the first devices have a 7-inch touch screen, standard x86 processors, and can run full versions of desktop operating systems including the Windows XP variant being used for Origami....In later generations, probably next year or later, the devices could have the pocket size, all-day battery life, and $500 price that Microsoft and Intel are aiming for, Graff said in an interview.
Fried has also published a photo gallery of the devices that Graff was previewing (one of the images appears above left). Credit should probably be given where credit is due. Mini-PC maker OQO was way ahead of either Microsoft or Intel in seeing the potential market for nearly PDA-sized devices that can run a full-blown copy of Windows XP. Back in May of 2004, OQO's chief technology officer, Jonathan Betts LaCroix gave me a demonstration of OQO's pocket-size PC (pictured right) while the tape was rolling.
But is the stylus the way to go?
Small stylus-based tablets aren't a new concept either. Years ago, I remember when Sony shipped a small tablet-based communicator based on General Magic's intelligent agent-based operating system that was a complete flop. Of course, the Web wasn't around at the time and neither was ubiquitous wireless connectivity. But there must be a lesson learned in the fact that most stylus-based PDAs have given way to keyboard-based devices (thank you Research in Motion!). These days, shipping a handset without some sort of keyboard basically dooms that handset to market failure. I've personally been unsuccessful in my attempts to morph into a Tablet PC user.
Some of the applications that first appeared on the tablet like OneNote are cool, but for me having a keyboard at my disposal makes them even cooler. Why restrict apps like that to the tablet? 'm only about 50 times more productive with a keyboard than without. As the Treo 700w's (pictured left) implementation of the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system proves, the stylus can be crutch too. In my tests of that device (which drew a huge amount of feedback from ZDNet's readers), there were features that were simply inaccessible without having to take out the stylus. So, imagine working with the Treo 700w's keyboard and being fairly productive (given its size), and then having to stop everything to fish out the stylus to tap some part of the screen that can't be accessed via the keyboard. It's counter productive. In it's BlackBerry operating system, RIM really figured out how to come up with an intuitive menu-driven UI that's perfectly integrated into a keyboard-enabled handheld with a scroll-wheel and escape button on the device's edge; a UI that all applications use. It is about as close to perfect as any user interface I've ever seen. It's like breathing pure oxygen compared to working with any other device I've ever used (and I've used many). But I know it's a matter of personal preference too.
So, do you know you're keyboard shortcuts to every Windows application? Are there some applications with features that won't work without the mouse (the stylus in the case of these Origami devices)? Is history going to repeat itself?