music, opinion and technology

swallowing the tablets

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The song stuck in my head today is a new one, to me at least: Talk by Coldplay, which I only heard when it was released as a single last December. I made the mistake of playing it while walking to work this morning, and have been whistling the hook all day, much to the annoyance of my colleagues in the office. It’s so catchy I half-expect to hear it behind a phone company commercial, except that the band are decidedly against the use of their music for commercial purposes, to date that is. Right now, however, I have a Dream Theater combo of Hell’s Kitchen and Lines In The Sand at work on my auditory cortex, to burn off the Coldplay for the duration.

The last few weeks have seen a masterfully-orchestrated teaser campaign on the Internet, surrounding something called the Origami Project. This week we finally saw details emerge of the UMPC, and it is something I might buy in to, later this year. UMPC is short for Ultra-Mobile PC, and can be seen as a half-size Tablet PC. I use a Tablet PC at work, a hp tc4200, and it’s great for what it is, but it has one factor working against its use as a replacement for paper: weight. The size is less of a problem, since the 12″ screen size is a good thing.

I would probably have bought a Tablet PC, at the right price, if I hadn’t managed to persuade my boss to spend a little more for the upgrade, when we all got new notebook PCs last year. It’s small by notebook standards, yet still chunky and awkward to use in cramped location. From the time I first saw a Tablet PC at all, I always thought it would be better at half the size, and that is what is being delivered in the form of the UMPC.

It’s not all rosy, of course, starting with the question of input. If I was to try using a UMPC for any serious work, I would need to attach a real keyboard to it. I also have some sneaking suspicions about the partnership between Intel, who are responsible for the hardware design, and Microsoft, who are behind the software. I expect that the hardware will be shipped in a locked form that works with Windows only, and I also expect that an enterprising hardware hacker will crack the restrictions. Not that Microsoft will object too loudly – it gives the hackers something to do, and M$ will already have the Windows XP license fee in their pockets.


Written by brian t

March 9, 2006 at 10:39 pm

Posted in technology

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