What is it with tablet PCs and vendors, especially Microsoft? Hmm, tablet PCs never earned broad market adoption... so let's try small tablets! Hmm, we can't call them tablets... let's give them a cool 3, no 4 letter acronym instead!

This story sounds the death knell (already) for the Microsoft Origami ultra-mobile PC (UPMC). Common traits for UPMCs include low voltage CPUs running at around 1GHz, 30 to 60GB 1.8-inch hard disk
drive, 7-inch 800x480 pixel screen, WiFi, Bluetooth, and at least 256MB
of DDR2 memory. So what's wrong with Origami UMPCs?

  1. Too heavy (just short of 2 lbs.)
  2. Poor user interface - too heavy for one handed use that allows touch screen, no keyboard for two handed use (a la Blackberry)
  3. Short battery life - 2 to 2.5 hours per charge
  4. Too expensive - $900 to $1,300

The best UMPC out there for health care is the OQO. Here are the OQO model 01+ specs: 1 GHz low voltage CPU, 30 GB hard drive (shock mounted), 5-inch 800x480 pixel screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 512 MB DDR memory,
3D accelerated graphics with 8MB of video RAM,
QWERTY thumb keyboard with mouse buttons and TrackStik. Oh, and battery life is 3 hours - 6 if you get the double capacity battery. All of this is wrapped in a nice cast magnesium case that weighs in at 13 ounces.

While the OQO is priced at $2,100, that compares favorably with ruggedized PDAs currently used in hospitals from Hand Held Products and Symbol. While early adopters are using "unoptimized" desktop applications, the user interface is really the application vendor's responsibility, not OQO's.

Time will tell whether UMPCs see adoption in health care. Pictured right is the Asus UMPC shown at Computex in Taipei, and the OQO.

Previous posts on UMPCs here, here, here, and here.