Microsoft hatching mystery mini tablet

Taking a page straight out of Apple’s book of PR, Microsoft has been whipping up excitement for its new mystery gadget.Dubbed Origami, the only offici

Taking a page straight out of Apple’s book of PR, Microsoft has been whipping up excitement for its new mystery gadget.

Dubbed Origami, the only official fact - from an enigmatic Microsoft-registered site, www.origamiproject.com (pictured) - is that we’ll be drip-fed info over the next three weeks. In the meantime, the web’s been ablaze with speculation on everything from an iPod rival to a Blackberry squasher.

The most educated guesses, however, stem from a promo video recorded a year ago by creative agency DigitalKitchen.

The clip, titled Origami and listing Microsoft as a client, shows a bunch of hip individuals using hardback book-sized tablet computers for sat-nav (suggesting GPS), Media Centre remote control (hinting at a full Windows XP OS), online gaming (Wi-Fi) and hook-up to portable devices (USB ports or media slots).

It all sounds mighty similar to the Ultramobile handheld PCs that Microsoft started talking about a few weeks ago. Which, basically, means a much lighter and cheaper version of the laptop-sized Tablet PCs that appeared two years back.

In other words, a bit like the Nokia 770, but with more power and versatility. Judging from DigitalKitchen’s video, a touchscreen and stylus are a given and the display will probably be around 6in, a tad bigger than Archos AV500.

Like everyone else, we’re pumped. We can’t help thinking about Microsoft’s old Windows XP Tablet and Personal Media Centres, though, which sounded great but were as useful as an inflatable dartboard in reality.

The second Microsoft offers up some hard facts – more are likely this Friday, the full lowdown’s not likely ‘til Cebit in a fortnight - you’ll be the first to know.

While we wait, we’d like to hear your guesses, ideas and gossip on what Origami might be – just click here.