Intel lifted the lid on Microsoft's Origami project on Thursday by showing off three Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) devices at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover.
As expected, one of the UMPCs was manufactured by Samsung. The others were built by Asus and Founder, a Chinese technology company.
But it appears that significantly more work will have to be done
before UMPCs are ready for the mass-market. Pankaj Kedia, Intel's
manager for low power IA marketing, told ZDNet UK that these first
devices have a battery life of between two and three hours, depending
on whether they were used to play video or not.
And while the Samsung and Founder devices were operational and being used to play video, the Asus UMPC — the R2H — appeared to have run out of power.
For full coverage of CeBIT 2006 as it happens,
see ZDNet UK's CeBIT 2006 toolkit.
Intel's general manager for Europe, Christian Morales, told a crowded press conference at CeBIT that UMPC devices represented the start of a new form factor for the PC industry. He also promised that Intel would help make UMPCs much more efficient over the next few years. "We have plans over the next five years to deliver a ten-fold improvement in power usage," he said.
All three UMPCs on show had touch-sensitive colour screens, measuring seven inches across the diagonal. They support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and have two USB ports. They weigh just under a kilogram, with hard drives of 30-60GB, and run on Intel's existing ultra-low-power Pentium and Celeron chips.
Samsung's device, called the Q1, is scheduled to launch in May this year, costing around €1,000 (£700).
Founder's UMPC device playing video
Bill Mitchell, Microsoft's vice president for mobile platforms, joined Morales on stage and demonstrated that the UMPCs ran Windows XP Tablet PC edition, with the addition of a piece of software called the Touch Pack providing an innovative on-screen keyboard that lets the user type with their thumbs.
"We've been working very hard for five years, to leverage the full power of the Windows XP Tablet," said Mitchell. He showed that UMPCs would include modified versions of Internet Explorer, OneNote and Windows Media Player.
ZDNet UK will have pictures of all three UMPC devices, and a more detailed preview of the Samsung Q1, later today.ZDNet UK's Charles McLellan contributed to this report.