“I saw the N800 and fell in love.. but then i saw the Sony UMPC… and wanted marriage… but saw the price tag and decided I was too young for marriage…” (from IRC)
The Origami project began with a lot of hype and the promise of a windows-XP-based mini computer for less than 500$ that will run for a full day on one battery. This hasn’t happened: Now in 2007, we have a number of bulky and heavy tablets with 7-inch-screens, usually priced around 1000 Euro.
Some smaller devices such as the Oqo or the Sony UX are closer to the originally promised device dimensions, but come at a price tag way beyond that.
So nothing revolutionary yet: Less-than-1kg Subnotebooks such as the Toshiba Libretto or the JVC XP were sold years before the Origami announcement.
The Nokia 770 and N800 came much closer: Just a bit more than 200 gramms, a full day or two on one battery for average mobile use. Thanks to the ARM-based chipset made for low-power systems and a Linux system that has been taught to conserve energy whenever it can.
But there are some interesting advances in x86-based UMPCs these days. Intel decided to make low power consumption a priority and wants to come up with a special UMPC CPU and chipset:
[..] Intel announced that they will make a dedicated CPU / Chipset platform for the UMPC that [..] will get the average power of a UMPC down to SUB 4-Watt. [..] The low-power screen component looks like it will come from Samsung who have developed, specifically for UMPCs, a 7″ screen that drains just 0.6Watt. That’s about 30% of what today’s screens typically take. [..] 4W average drain is amazing. It means that a 2006 UMPC that ran for 3 hours could potentially run for 9 hours. It also enables smaller devices to be built. It means that x86 architecture is becoming so efficient that RISC/ARM based tech loses a lot of its advantage.
The cynical result of these improvements might be smaller devices with smaller batteries that still last the magical 3 hours, only, but here’s hoping.
Intel is competing with AMD. Their Geode chipset is already used in PDA-sized windows XP computers such as the Raon Digital Vega or the upcoming Digital Cube G43 UMPC. A working prototype (it was functional and ran XP, but the case design will change) was on display at CeBIT: Twice the weight and a bit bigger than the N800, but still fascinating:
Of course, ARM CPUs will also continue to be improved. 2007 and 2008 will be interesting years for mobile computing, as ARM-based PDAs continue to become more like mobile PCs while x86-based PCs turn into PDAs.
According to Harald Welte, Intel has a company policy of releasing Linux drivers for all its chipsets. x86-based Linux will be an actual, well-supported alternative operating system.
A full Gnome desktop with Firefox on this? If it’s significantly less than a 1000$, count me in!
(Image via pocketables.net)
(Youtube video from UMPCPortal)