A mobile Internet device from Intel?

The acronym UMPC is anything but a household word--and equally obscure, at least to the masses of computer buyers, are the handheld gadgets that the term describes, despite the best efforts of heavyweights like Microsoft and Samsung.

Intel's mobile Internet device

UMPCs, or "ultramobile personal computers," debuted around this time last year, as Microsoft's Origami software effort unfolded into yet another form factor for computing tech that fits in a pocket, more or less. Samsung's Q1 device made the biggest splash, and then quickly sunk out of sight until version two, the Windows Vista-based Q1 Ultra, appeared at last month's CeBit show.

Now comes word that this week's Intel Developer Forum in Beijing will show what the world's leading chipmaker can do with this mini mobile PC design. ZDNet Australia, a cousin of, is providing details on Intel's so-called Mobile Internet Device, based on its . A host of blogs also are in the game, offering pictures along with specs--and speculation about what success might await the design. Apparently some of the early word on the Intel device came from some Powerpoint slides that slipped onto the Internet.

Much of the blog chatter has centered on Intel's use of the Linux operating system. Some also noted similarities to the design of Nokia's N800 Internet tablet.

Blog community response:

"Big news on the UMPC front this morning folks. Looks like Intel is shedding the Origami gorilla (read: Microsoft) as they prep a Linux-based platform to compete with Vista and XP-based UMPCs."

"If this is an open platform, it has the potential to really change the mobile device game. If Intel embraces and supports the development community and looks the other way like Apple has with the hacker community this device could have huge potential."
--Provoking Thoughts on Business, Technology, & Life

"The 'Mobile Internet Device', or MID, looks to be positioned underneath the existing UMPC platform currently being pushed by Microsoft. Chief difference - and of vast interest to the community of tinkerers out there - is its open-source, Linux-based OS; it actually sounds a lot like Nokia's N800 Internet Tablet, which similarly runs a modified version of Linux."

"With its Mobile Internet Device Intel is trying to improve all of the things that annoy us in current UMPCs: battery life, price, performance and usability. If they go anything near what we've seen last days surely they have a winning concept."