UMPC/Origami: Tablet PC Killer or Turbo-PDA?

Actually, neither. It proposes to fill the huge and likely profitable space between the two.

Rob Bushway has a interesting post today that raises questions, both about Tablet PCs as well as the effect of the forthcoming UMPC/Origami on the love affair between mobile technology users and their Tablet PCs.

A UMPC/Origami is an “ultra mobile PC” (thus the name UMPC) that is significantly smaller than a Tablet PC. It has a 7″ screen. Here is an FAQ with a little more information about them.

Rob points out that even though Tablet PCs are designed to be mobile and easy to take with you, a lot of people don’t carry them around any more than a traditional notebook. They are too big to be unobtrusive and some people have found the notetaking features less productive than they hoped.

I agree with both of those concerns. I use my Thinkpad X41 Tablet PC all the time, but as a laptop replacement, not something to carry around with me like a super-charged PDA. Sure, I use it around the house a little, when I want to be outside, but need to stay connected for some reason. But mostly I use it on business trips in lieu of a traditional laptop.

We have an old Fujitsu tablet (no keyboard) that we keep downstairs for people to check weather, email, etc. My wife loved the idea in concept and she used it a bit when I first set it up, but now it gathers dust as she thinks it’s too big and too slow (I agree with the first part, but I think she’s making the slow part up).

But the fact remains that there is a big space between the current Tablet PCs and a PDA. Tablets are too big to carry around unobtrusively and PDAs (sorry, even Treos) are too small to use regularly for computing and internet functions.

So what do I think about the UMPC/Origami? I think the devil will be in the details, but if it does what reports claim it will application and internet wise, I agree with Rob that the future of mobile computing may very well include a UMPC/Origami along with a traditional laptop or tablet PC.

I’m not so sure that I wouldn’t still have a Tablet PC, since I continue to believe that a Tablet PC will do everything a traditional laptop will do and more. But I can certainly envision UMPC/Origami taking a big role in the mobile technology space.

Fellow Houstonian James Kendrick provides a preview of how a UMPC/Origami might fit into your mobile technology plans (interestingly enough by looking back at his prior discussion of how to use a Sony U71).

I’ll certainly want to take a long, hard look at a UMPC/Origami when they become widely available, but based on what I know so far, I expect one will end up in my briefcase.

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