Is the UMPC/Origami the future?
There has been a lot of talk around lately about how Microsoft's new Origami/UMPC might be the solution to everyone's mobile computing needs. I normally don't write about this kind of thing but the conversation has really gotten me thinking. It seems that a lot of people within the tablet community are frustrated because they've realized that they're not using their tablets as much as they'd like to because they aren't taking them everywhere they might need them. The general consensus is that a smaller device would be more likely to make the trip, therefore giving them more use and more productivity. As a general rule this makes sense to me, but I still have one major issue with the concept - a UMPC still can't fit in your pocket. (I have partially been corrected once, though I also consider it somewhat of a joke.)I just can't see myself whipping one of those things out at a moment's notice, and unless you're a European Carry-All owner, I can't imagine this would go many more places than a slightly larger, more functional tablet.
As I've posted in the past, my primary computing device is a Lenovo X41 Tablet and I recently added a PPC-6700 Windows Mobile 5 phone. I just can't see a UMPC replacing either of these devices for me. It's not going to replace my X41 because I wouldn't be able to touch-type on it, and Bluetooth keyboards can be forgotten. They also don't stand a change against my PPC-6700 due to it's large size and no phone component.
Really, the only ultra-small device that I'd consider is the cPC from DualCor. This device reminds me a lot of a Sony U70 with a phone built in. This device, still has the size problem but at least it could replace my PPC-6700 as my PDA/Phone and it would make quick notes really easy with full XP Tablet and OneNote.
After really evaluating how I use my devices my ideal gadget would be my PPC-6700 with a 20gb hard drive and automatic OneNote sync with my Tablet. I rarely find myself places needing to jot down more than a minor note, so the thumb-board on the PPC-6700 is perfect, and it also has voice recording, so with OneNote 2007 and it's audio transcribing features, I'll be covered, and any serious computing could be done with my X41 Tablet. I just am not that reliant on full versions of word/acrobat/excel/etc. that I really need a full PC all the time.
I guess I just feel these devices fall in no-mans-land. Too big to replace a phone or PDA and too small to be a serious laptop replacement. Be serious for a second and imagine looking at a 7" screen for more than a couple of minutes at a time and imagine if you could get any work done without a headache.
Now don't get me wrong, I think the UMPC/Origami devices are WAY cool - I just don't see how they can fill any gaps for me. My only guess as to the target demographic is someone who has a desktop pc and a normal phone. Then, these could be slipped into a briefcase very easily and toted around instead of a legal pad, then synchronized with the desktop when needed.
The only other two uses I can think of are more hobby-type activites:
- A really cool, easy to install CarPC.
- Awesome remote for home automation.
Time will tell, but I think the MOTR guys had it right when they talked about these being more of a catalyst to make people aware of the way small computing devices can change the way they work.