I was able to get my hands (albeit briefly) on the unusually-named UBiQUiO 701
tablet PC and...
(slight pause for dramatic effect)
I must say that for the longest time now, I have always been antagonistic to the idea of the Tablet PC (much to the consternation of tablet evangelist Carlo Guerrero). But I had my reasons. Mostly it had to do with the fact that tablet PCs have always been too bulky for what they were supposed to do. Okay, that, plus the fact that tablets seem to hate my handwriting.
But Microsoft's "Origami" tablet specs may very well change my mind, if it hasn't already. I've gotten hold of the Ubiquio 701... and I instantly fell in love with the darn thing!
The 701 is incredibly light for an XP-running machine, weighing less than a kilogram and with dimensions just north of a Playstation Portable. It's not the fastest thing in the world (it uses a VIA C7 1.0GHz CPU), but I don't care because I'm basically an Office- and web- kind of guy. And for these purposes, the 701 is more than enough. It comes with 512MB of memory, a 7" screen (good enough for word processing), and a 40GB hard drive. Add to that Bluetooth 2.0 (!), Wi-Fi and two USB 2.0 ports.
1. This thing is so light that I could actually carry it with me anywhere I go. I mean, I have always deluded myself into thinking that my current Lifebook laptop is light enough to bring anywhere, but the truth is that it's still too laptoppy to lug around everywhere. But the 701 is so bag-friendly that you literally can! It's even lighter than those old Transmeta-powered Lifebooks.
2. It was designed for the vast majority of people who want to be mobile in order to surf and connect and do basic office chores. No gamers allowed (you'll get bored quickly). But for people who are prone to impulses of Must-Use-Computer-Now, this is perfect.
3. Mouse around via its stylus or via a thumb pad. The pad was surprisingly easy enough to get used to for a touchpad-habitue like me. Of course you can snap on a mouse, but that will eat up your USB ports. Better get a hub... but that will be one more thing to clutter up your bag.
1. No keyboard? Well, it IS a tablet PC! Still, it would have been great if the 701 came with a keyboard that was styled to fit its look. As such, you will have to get your own USB keyboard (the dealer offers a free keyboard as a promo). Better yet, get one of those tiny-form-factor A4Tech USB keyboards so you can stuff it into your bag as well.
2. The stand is a separate item. And since it's separate, this means that you can end up losing it sooner or later. I would have preferred to see the 701 come with the stand built in. After all, even if it's a tablet, chances are that for most of the time, you'd still prefer to work on it like a laptop.
3. The screen ain't got the best picture in the world, so don't expect glossy images to stick out. In fact, for me, its picture quality is just a couple of notches above passive TFT. But then, you're getting this unit for its portability and not for its image quality.
I didn't get to test battery life, unfortunately, since the unit was the last one in stock at the dealer's. I also didn't care to test my handwriting because the training time would be hell.
Bottom line, however, is that with the Origami specs in place, I think I am now ready to fall in love with tablet PCs (After all, you get to conveniently watch DivX videos on a 7" screen while commuting to work!). And at just 60++ grand, it's not that expensive. In fact, I am seriously considering replacing my trusty, time-tested Lifebook with an Origami-based PC when the time comes. Once an Origami-based unit comes out with ultra-long battery life, a vibrant screen, complementary keyboard accessory and a couple more more USB ports.