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Microsoft Unfolds ‘Origami'

9 Mar, 2006 By: John Latchem

Samsung's Q1 UMPC

Microsoft has unveiled its answer to Apple's iPod.

The software giant removed the shroud from its mysterious “Origami Project” March 9 at the CeBIT trade show in Germany, introducing a much-anticipated new line of ultra-mobile personal computer (UMPC) devices.

The mini computers weigh about two pounds and have a 7-inch screen that is used to input data through finger-touch or stylus. A traditional keyboard can be attached through a USB port.

The devices will run with a version of Windows XP designed for tablet PCs. Microsoft representatives said the Windows software gives the UMPC the functionality of a desktop computer, as well as online capabilities through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet networks.

It can be used to search the Internet, download photos, listen to music and watch downloaded movies.

Online video-on-demand service Movielink has teamed with Microsoft to offer premium Hollywood content to UMPC users for $1.99 to $4.99 per film.

“We believe the new UMPC platform will be a catalyst for portable video consumption," said Sean Besser, director of business development for Movielink. "We're excited to be part of this new platform, as we are committed to offering consumers as much flexibility as possible to legally access movie content anytime, anywhere, and on the device of their choice.”

The UMPCs feature 30GB to 60GB hard drives, which are the same specifications of Apple's video iPod that is capable of storing 75 to 150 hours of video. Early UMPCs will have a battery life of about three hours.

The first UMPC to hit the market is likely to be the Intel-based Q1, from South Korea's Samsung Electronics, which is anticipated to hit stores in April. Models from other companies, built around Intel or VIA processors, are expected soon after.

Each manufacturer will offer different features to make their devices unique. A UMPC from Taiwan-based Asustek, for example, has a 1.3-megapixel camera.

The retail price of the UMPCs will be $600 to $1,000.

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