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Origami is in the house

Origami is in the house

We finally got our own "Origami" ultramobile PC. This one is an Eo v7110 from TabletKiosk, a manufacturer that sells primarily to corporate integrators (and direct via its Web site). We just dropped the machine off at our Labs, so full benchmarks and a review will post this week. I had a chance to work with it for a few minutes before I gave it up.

It's a nice machine. The control layout is sensible and the learning curve is very short. I've never used a UMPC before today, and I was up to speed with it in minutes. The screen is touch sensitive, so you can thumb-type on it using two rounded half-keyboards (one under each thumb), although the pressure required to register on the screen was a little high, making typing tiring. Microsoft's Windows XP tablet interface also comes with a very nice full-screen menu system that's reminiscent of the Windows Media Center variant.

The TabletKiosk representative we met with pitched this machine as useful for two main groups: First, "vertical" applications such as health care, industry, and the military. As a portable console into business and custom applications, it makes a lot of sense. It's much lighter than a full-size tablet PC, and it runs standard Windows programs.

The other proposed customer set was the consumer: business travelers, cooks in their kitchens, and so forth. For this group, this platform strikes me as a bad choice. It's too small to be used comfortably for intensive work, its battery isn't robust enough to last through a single two-hour movie, and with an $899 starting price, it's way too expensive to be a kitchen appliance. However, as a car PC, it's a great option, and TabletKiosk does make a mobile mounting solution.

At the platform's current state of development, a UMPC might be just what's needed in some vertical and business environments. But even though it's a neat engineering feat, it's too heavy, too expensive, and has too-poor battery life to make a good choice for a consumer or a small-business user. We'll have more to say on the product, and the platform, after we test it.