Bill Gates demos a new mobile PC

Addressing a ballroom full of government officials from countries throughout North and South America, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates whipped out something that looked like an oversized PlayStation Portable. For those of you who follow the software giant, the gadget used to go by the code name "Origami."

Speaking at his company's Government Leaders Forum, Gates called the system an Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer. It was a Samsung prototype, and basically meant to be a lighter, more fully functional computing device than what's out there--somewhere between a tablet PC and a PDA. It has a touch screen, but no keyboard, although Gates showed it with an interesting on-screen keypad that splits keys into two corners of the display.

Microsoft actually rolled out the so-called UMPC at last week's CeBIT show in Germany and said it expects such devices to sell for well under $1,000. For more details, you can check out a Q&A the company posted with Bill Mitchell, Microsoft's vice president of the Windows Mobile Platforms Division.

You can also find lots of details at the Origami Project Web site.

Such a system (which will run Windows XP Tablet PC Edition) could face an uphill struggle. It's too big to clip to a belt, like your handheld, but it doesn't function like an ultra-portable laptop. At first glance, it reminds us of a Palm LifeDrive on steroids.

The company estimates that a couple models could trickle into the market next quarter. We'll hope to get one into the GCN Lab.

Posted by Brad Grimes

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