The tablet PC is offically back, with Samsung and Asus leading the charge with the first real world gadgets.
Dubbed Ultra Mobile PC (formerly ‘Origami’), the new handheld computers will be far more luggable than today’s tablets and theoretically easier to use - screen sizes are limited to 7in and Microsoft’s bundling a bunch of touchscreen software called the Touch Pack.
The first two machines to be unveiled are Asus’ R2H and Samsung’s Q1. We’ve already memorably christened Asus’ ‘the silver one’ but it’s probably more accurately known as the ‘one with GPS, a web cam and a fingerprint scanner built-in’. What we know about Samsung’s job is that it’s ‘the black one’, weighs a fairly light 779g, measures 24.5mm thick, has a 40GB hard drive and can add GPS as an optional extra.
Beyond those facts, we’re reliant on Microsoft’s Ultra Mobile PC site which reveals that the computers will run Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 and have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as standard.
Microsoft’s bloggers have also given some insight into Programme Launcher – a Media Centre-esque skin with touchscreen-friendly shortcuts for your most-used apps, files and the like – and Brilliant Black, a touchscreen skin for Windows Media Player so you don’t have to bugger about with a stylus. We’ve got snapshots below of both.
For the time being, today’s new tablets throw up more questions than answers. And, boy, are we brimming with questions: will UMPCs have instant-on modes? Will they get Vista? Will they be able to take 3G data cards? What battery life can we expect? What’s the meaning of life? And, of course, when can we have one to keep? We’ll be badgering Microsoft, Sammie and Asus, so watch this space.