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Grappling with Origami

A first look at Samsung’s Q1

PC Advisor was treated to an in-depth briefing on Samsung’s Q1 mini notebook yesterday and is currently in the process of putting one of the first review models through its paces.

The Q1, based on Microsoft's 'Origami' blueprint, has been developed in conjunction with Intel. The Q1 will be the first UMPC (ultramobile PC) to be launched, possibly several months ahead of an Origami-based Asus unit.

Origami folds together several functions: highly portable notebook computing, a portable media player with MP3 and video playback, PDA-style touchscreen entry, multi-gigabyte storage and, in the case of the Q1, GPS navigation. An Asus spokesman informed us that its own iteration of Origami will sport GPS. He hinted that Asus’ take on Origami will be cheaper than Samsung’s £799 inc VAT Q1.

Although it has a 7in WXGA widescreen touch-sensitive display, the Samsung Q1 has no optical drive, so users will be reliant on copying video files from a PC to enjoy them on the move.

Origami devices are designed to showcase Intel’s ultra low-power processors with batteries that can last a whole working day. They represent yet another stab at flogging the Tablet PC operating system by Microsoft.

Samsung says the Q1 will have a maximum battery life of 3.5 hours and a video playback time of just 1hr 40mins. Unsurprisingly, one of the accessories it has already developed is an ‘extended’ battery pack that will boost longevity to seven hours. Another option will be a Power Bank 8 Cell offering nine hours of battery life.

Samsung was, however, keen to stress that the Q1 will be the first of several Origami devices. The spokesperson was not at liberty to disclose what or when new models were likely to be announced.

Judging from the approach Samsung is taking to the markets it claims it is aiming for - education, medical, industrial and other vertical markets as well as consumers - it is playing the watch-and-wait game in terms of where it will take its Origami line next.

The company was happy to agree, however, that a marginally slimmer, lighter device was likely and, when asked whether they thought they’d missed a trick by not copying Sony’s desirable Playstation Portable’s Xblack screen, suggested that was another possibility for future versions. Increased storage capacity over the Q1’s likely 40GB is another strong possibility.

Much has already been written about the Samsung Q1 since it has the distinction of being the first of a line of planned devices codenamed Origami. Chief reason for the amount of press coverage Origami has received is that it is Microsoft’s latest ‘next big thing’ and had star billing at CeBit in February.

To PC Advisor this all smacks somewhat of the launch of the Windows XP-based Tablet PC operating system which, again, married a touch-sensitive screen to a portable device with full Microsoft Office functionality.

In the end, however, the concept was quickly dropped by most manufacturers outside the education and health sectors as consumers found cheaper, more easily portable devices more compelling than the premium demanded for a touchscreen. This time around, no one is pretending these Tablet PC-based devices will replace proper notebooks or PCs, which is progress.

We’re not the only ones with misgivings. Despite the inevitable hype, mutterings have already been heard about whether the Origami concept itself is flawed. Whether it ends up being a device in search of an application remains to be seen.


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