In a preview of Tuesday afternoon's demonstration, Intel Marketing Director Brad Graff showed CNET News.com several of the ultramobile PC devices, including an example of the kind of hardware that will ship in the next few weeks as part of the Microsoft effort.
, the first devices have a 7-inch touch screen, standard x86 processors, and can run full versions of desktop operating systems including the Windows XP variant being used for Origami.
In later generations, probably next year or later, the devices could have the pocket size, all-day battery life, and $500 price that Microsoft and Intel are aiming for, Graff said in an interview.
The first generation of devices are likely to get about three hours of battery life, he said.
In addition to the 7-inch model, Graff showed several other prototype devices of what the chipmaker hopes will be possible in future versions, including models with smaller screens and a swivel-out keyboard. Although the prototypes are working, because they use today's standard components, they get only about 15 minutes of battery life.
Sneak peak of small things to come
Ultramobile PCs come fully equipped.
Intel's hardware, which uses its ultralow-voltage chips, can run standard x86 operating systems, including Windows and Linux. Microsoft plans on Thursday to finally detail its Origami effort, which runs only on Windows XP.
Both Microsoft and Intel have been targeting the affordable, ultraportable laptops market for some time. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates showed off a prototype of such a device at last year's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle. Intel has been touting the ultramobile PC idea as well.
Intel and Microsoft's latest efforts are not the first stab at shrinking the PC. There has long been a class of ultraportable laptops, mostly with around 10-inch screens. There have been a few prior attempts to take the PC even smaller, most notably from OQO and a minitablet introduced this year by Dualcor Technologies. Most of these devices, though, have been priced at about $1,500, which is above the budgets of the average consumer.
The key feature of the new devices, Graff said, is the ability to get the full Internet, with plug-ins and other advanced Web features. Entertainment--including music, movies and TV--is probably the second biggest selling point, he said.
Although Intel has consumers in mind for the ultramobile PCs, Graff said he expects technology enthusiasts, as well as some niche business and education customers, to be the most likely buyers of the first generation of devices, which will sell for under $1,000.
"We expect this to be a real consumer product and to do that, you have to be able to hit real consumer price points," he said.
Intel also found in its testing that the devices appeal to active mothers, who, the chipmaker learned, have schedules similar to corporate road warriors.
"It was something we didn't expect," Graff said.