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Origami Buzz

The hit of the CeBIT show is clearly Microsoft's "Origami" "Ultramobile PC" initiative. Origami is the code name for a cost-reduced tablet PC, one of which was announced by Samsung as the Q1. Yes, it's cute. But it's still a thousand-buck PC, implying configuration, management, updates, and all that stuff that ultimately adds cost and mystifies the consumers that are the target audience for this class of device. A number in my party of journalists said they thought the product was too expensive (it is), and perhaps oddly positioned in a netherworld between the PDA and a "real" tablet. One can buy a pretty good notebook for US$1,000. I personally like the size, but the mission is all wrong.

We don't need more PCs, mobile or otherwise. We do need devices in this form factor, though. It's a bit larger than the Nokia 770, and I kind of like that. More screen context is a good thing. But what I really want is an interface to the other computers I already own, not another place to put data that will need to be synchronized and otherwise backed up.

I am going to be experimenting with VNC on the 770. VNC is "Virtual network Computing," originally developed by AT&T along the lines of the X Window System, which allows the screen of one device to be displayed on another in a highly cross-platform way (think remote Mac on a PC screen, for example). That way I don't need to care about updates and backups, just connectivity. Microsoft tried this with their Terminal Server product a while ago, but, like many Microsoft products, is was big, bloated, complex, and Windows-specific. Anyway, I'll let you know how this works out. And a thin-client version of Origami would be just great, IMHO.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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