March 12, 2006

The unfolding of the new age

Recently, there was all that brouhaha over the Microsoft Origami project – basically an ultra-light (sic) device which weighs only 2 pounds or so (that’s about 1kg for the metrically inclined :p) and runs a version of Windows XP and can run MS Office. I believe the original Microsoft spec was to have a device which can run on batteries the whole day and could be carried anywhere with you – the truly portable PC. However, the original devices don’t seem to be anywhere close to the target in battery life since if I am not mistaken, they are supposed to have something like two and a half hours of battery life.

So what’s interesting about Origami? It’s the fact that a few people online have touted this as the next-generation writer’s tool. I have to laugh 🙂 Come on, there have been electronic writing tools around for ages. Sure, some of them are not as portable as others but even as far back as 1997, I remember using the HP Handheld PC. It ran Windows CE, folded up into about the size of your palm, ran for several days on one charge and had a tiny keyboard. I still remember typing out a story on it while waiting for a connecting flight in the Las Vegas airport terminal.

Then there is the Compaq iPaq. It fits in your pocket and again runs Windows CE and comes with Pocket Word. I’ve plugged in a foldable keyboard and have typed out stories on that too. Sure, it’s not as good as the HP Handheld since the foldable keyboard needs a really flat surface but still it works as a writing tool. Heck, I’ve even written a couple of poems and songs using the touch-screen on my Sony Ericsson P800 – but a writing tool it’s not. Perhaps if you added a bluetooth, keyboard, it might work better 🙂

But why go to such lengths? There are such perfectly good writing tools like the AlpahSmart line of products. They are lightweight, easy to use and the battery lasts much longer than two and a half hours :p If you like the AlphaSmart range, then there’s also QuickPad.

Basically, there are a heck of a lot of alternatives out there for writers to keep writing on the go. (And I’m not even going to touch on traditional pen and paper here – mostly because I can never write unless I have a keyboard in front of me :p) But the Origami just does not look like the kind of tool I’d want if all I want is a way to keep writing on the go. It’s just too expensive, power-hungry and as yet, untested for it to be something that I *have to* have. Perhaps a few years down the line, once the product has matured, it will be the writer’s tool of choice. But not just yet …

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Posted by Fahim at 8:29 am  |  4 Comments