by CIO Staff

Samsung Q1 ‘Origami’ Ultra-Mobile PC Debuts in U.S.

May 02, 20063 mins

Samsung Electronics said Monday that its Q1 Windows-based ultra-mobile PC is available online through hardware reseller CDW.

The Q1 will retail for US$1,099 in the United States, slightly higher than the target price named by Microsoft in March. Microsoft collaborated with Intel to create the Origami platform, on which the Q1 and other ultra-mobile PC devices are based. When it introduced the platform, Microsoft said the devices would be priced between $500 and $1,000.

The Q1 also was made available in South Korea on Monday for 1,199,000 won (US$1,264).

In addition to being sold by CDW, the Q1 also will be available in the United States at Best Buy’s online outlet from May 7. The device will be available in select Best Buy stores in the third quarter, according to Samsung.

Origami machines run a tablet version of the Windows XP operating system and are aimed at a market niche between laptop PCs and PDAs. The devices allow users to browse the Internet, listen to music, view movies and other video entertainment, play games and “write” handwritten notes much as they can on a Microsoft TabletPC device.

It took some thinking to come up with a hybrid version of Windows that marries some of the features of both the mobile and desktop versions of the OS, said Bill Mitchell, corporate vice president, mobile platforms division for Microsoft.

“You can’t take Windows, plunk it down on a small form factor and call it a day,” he said, speaking at the Monday launch event. “The first step was to make Windows appropriate for this size.”

Microsoft already is running the next version of Windows, Vista, on ultra-mobile PCs in the labs and will be working in the future to bring to the devices some of the new features Vista will bring to PCs, Mitchell said.

Samsung’s Q1 has a 7-inch iquid crystal display monitor with touchscreen functionality and is about half the size of an average laptop PC. At 1.7 pounds it is also lighter, and is less than an inch thick. Its battery life is about three hours.

Joe Wilcox, an analyst with Jupiter Research, said the pricing of the Q1 is a little high for mainstream consumers to add it to their cache of digital devices right away. But he said Samsung and its partners have put a lot of effort into making the new ultra-mobile PC stylish and innovative, and it is worth the price tag if someone wants to carry only one device instead of both a PC and a PDA.

“At $1,100, it’s not for everyone,” Wilcox said. “But for the folks that pay, they’ll get a ‘wow’ experience.”

Other companies that plan to offer ultra-mobile PC devices include Taiwan’s Asustek Computer, and a company tied to China’s Founder Group.

-Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service

For related news coverage, read As UMPCs Hit the Market, There’s Still Work to Be Done and Samsung to Launch Q1 Ultra Mobile PC in May.

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