Popular Science: The Littlest PCs

Not quite a laptop, not quite a smartphone, it’s the future of mobile computing.

Meet the ultra-mobile PC, a.k.a. UMPC: a seven-inch screen, Windows XP Tablet PC operating system, plus Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, all in a book-size package that weighs less than two pounds. It’s the vision of the Origami Project team at Microsoft, which recently unveiled design concepts and software for the devices. All Origami-certified UMPCs will feature the Touch Pack, a finger-friendly add-on to Windows XP with shortcut keys, large program icons and a split on-screen keyboard for rapid typing with your thumbs.

Is this Microsoft’s answer to the iPod—a juiced-up, highly capable media player? Unlikely. Analysts say the company is just testing the waters for consumer interest in the small (though not quite pocketable) devices. Want to be an early adopter?

Samsung Q1
The Q1 is the first Origami UMPC to reach the U.S. Taking full advantage of the notion of roving entertainment, it features an instant-on media player that runs independent of the OS, to save power and boot faster.

Size: 8.9 x 5.5 x 1 in.
Weight: 1.7 lbs.
System Specs: Intel Celeron M 1.2GHz processor, 40 or 60GB hard drive display: 7-in. touchscreen
Available: Now: $1,100; samsung.com

Asus R2H
Asus will closely follow Samsung with some upgrades, including a fingerprint reader and built-in GPS. Along with a‑slightly higher price tag, the R2H has a 1.3-megapixel user-facing webcam for video conferencing.

Size: 9.5 x 5.3 x 0.9 in.
Weight: 2.2 lbs.
System Specs: Intel Celeron M 900MHz pro­cessor, hard-drive size TBA display: 7-in. touchscreen
Available: Summer: $1,300; usa.asus.com

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