Microsoft and Intel have removed the wraps from their UMPC (Ultra-Mobile PC) formerly code-named "Origami". There's been plenty of hype about it, and information galore on Engadget, community sites (UMPC, Rob McClaws), and even Aussie bloggers ( Jeff Alexander, Michael Kleef, Mitch Denny etc)

Some people seem to love them. I'm wondering if anyone's disappointed? Don't get me wrong, I love mobility. I have two tablet PCs (Tecra M4, Portege M200), three pocket PCs (two iPaqs and a Toshiba) and four smartphones (Qtek and iMate) in my flat, along with three regular notebooks (Lat D600, Tecra M2 and Vaio Z1).

Whilst I understand that there is probably a niche for this device, is just doesn't seem compelling to me. If Microsoft is pitching this at the consumer or mobile professional then:

  • Three hour battery life is disappointing. If Microsoft wants this to be a disconnected device then we need at least a day's worth of power. There's no point taking this outside, on holidays, or wherever if it needs to be charged every 2-3 hours.
  • It runs standard Windows XP Tablet PC Edition on a slow CPU off a regular hard disk. That's also disappointing. I don't know about everyone else, but waiting two or so minutes for my PC to boot up is not what I like doing. For a mobile device (like a Pocket PC or Smartphone) we expect "instant on", which makes the device handy for using whenever or wherever. Just get it out, hit a button and you're ready to go. I realise that standby/hibernate are options, but I find that you still need to reboot XP every so often, even if only to deal with crappy drivers that don't come back out of standby properly

I know Mitch has remarked that this device has the potential to replace desktops in the enterprise, but I think it falls far short of that. For the enterprise:

  • The screen resolution is way too low. Imagine trying to do anything productive in Excel or Visio on an 800x480 screen.
  • The device doesn't have any features that mitigate the current problems with mobile devices in the enterprise: employees lose these things, or they get stolen, or they get damaged, or they get infected with spyware/malware when used at home.
  • The devices aren't exactly ergonomic. People who use computers daily need proper keyboards, mouses and a decent sized display. This device offers none of that.

And lastly, the devices look ugly. I know Jeff disagrees with me, but I think Jeff needs to buy some stuff some made by Apple or Sony. Whilst a low price might overcome these limitations, the talked about costs (US$500-1000) probably means I'll be sticking to my regular Tablet PC + iMate Smartphone + iPod Nano combination.