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Samsung shows first Origami device

Ultramobile device is half tablet, half PDA

Samsung is showing the first device designed around Microsoft's Origami project at the CeBit electronics show in Germany. It is a handheld computer that falls somewhere between a tablet PC and a PDA. It runs a special edition of Windows XP.

The device measures about 15cm by 20cm, or half the size of a sheet of copier paper, and is known officially as an ultramobile device. Samsung's product, called the Q1, runs on a 900MHz Intel Celeron microprocessor and has 500MB of RAM.

The Q1 which was on show at Samsung's CeBit booth a day ahead of the show here in Hanover. It boasts both WLAN (wireless local area network), 802.11a/g and Bluetooth connections, and uses touchscreen controls. It runs an instant-on multimedia player so users don't have to launch the full XP operating system to watch a video.

The device is in the final stages of development and it's not known exactly when it will be available or at what price. It will be discussed further at CeBit press conferences on Thursday by Intel and Microsoft.

Microsoft has been cagey about Origami's details since news of it first leaked out two weeks ago, when the company posted a website with minimal details here here. Early reports speculated that Origami might be a hardware product from Microsoft, but it turned out that the company is providing the software for a device that will be built by partners such as Samsung, using Intel processors.

The ultramobile system is hardly a new concept. At Microsoft's WinHEC conference last April, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates revealed plans for a lightweight machine in a form factor that falls between a PDA and a tablet PC. At the time, he said Microsoft and its partners would launch the product in 2006.

PopCap Games plans to announce several games for the devices at CeBit on Friday, including "Bejeweled 2", "Zuma" and "Bookworm". Trial versions of the games will be preinstalled on Origami devices from several hardware makers. Customers will be able to buy the full games from Microsoft's MSN Games portal, according to PopCap.

Pharos Science and Applications will launch GPS (global positioning system) software for Origami systems at CeBit, the company said. Pharos already offers GPS software for Microsoft Windows Mobile devices.

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