Daily Archives: March 10, 2006

Origami: 800 x 480 ain’t bad!

There is nothing like a new technology from Microsoft to polarise the blogging community. When the truth behind Origami finally came out the majority of the responses fell into two categories.

  • This sucks.
  • This rocks.

To the people that say that it rocks – I’m with you, this particular packaging of existing technology could change the world if people give it the chance. To the people that say it sucks – I’m trying to understand your complaint.

Unlike AtariBoy, I think Ken was the most coherent so I’ll start there (Ken – I’m paraphrasing for brevity):

  • Only has a three hour battery life.
  • Potentially slow boot-up time.
  • The screen resolution is too low.
  • The devices could get stolen, damaged or infected.
  • The ergonomics aren’t right.

Lets have a look at each of these in turn and see if I can get anyone to rethink their initial impressions of the device(s).

Battery Life

I would have expected a little bit more battery life as well, and I think we do that because the device is so small, we somehow think that size has a lot to do with power consumption. The reality is that the components are just smaller, they still suck as much juice. The trade off is really a combination of ergonomics and the performance of certain components such as the processor and disk.

If they had more battery power they would be be heavier and less ergonomic. And while it only weighs in at 0.9kg (2 pounds) its is a little two heavy to hold in one hand for a while. The weight will come down and the battery life will go up (it always does).

I would also point out that the effective battery life of my laptop is about three hours and I regularly work in cafes, bus shelters and park benches. I’ll often go back to Starbucks to get a coffee and a charge up during the day.

Once you factor in disturbances, three hours is about 50% of your day, which means with an Origami (or other device), you could be 50% more mobile. 50% is a big number!

Slow Boot-up Time

This is an issue for any device that loads a substantial operating system. Having said that, I don’t think that a reboot is as frequent as folks make out. For example, I haven’t rebooted my laptop for about three or four weeks, and its a developer machine.

The Origami is going to run on a limited set of device configurations so I think that once they get passed the usual teething problems it should be pretty stable (of course – adding apps can change that).

Low Screen Resolution

A lot of people have commented that the 800×480 screen resolution is too small to be useful. It is certainly a constraint, but how bad is it really? I created some screenshots and uploaded them to Flickr with various applications open and constrained to that resolution.

For the most part I think the applications would be quite usable, even more so if they get specialised skins for the Origami form factor.

Stolen, Damaged or Infected

Ken has a really good point here, devices that you put into your end users care will get stolen, will get damaged and will get infected, or at least a certain percentage will. How big that percentage is depends on the quality of your hiring process – I’m not kidding!

Still – the enterprise is aggressively purchasing laptops at the moment, and if they aren’t purchasing them for mobility what are they purchasing them for? I think that there is a large category of businesses out there that aren’t well served by desktops or the current breed of laptops and could use the Origami form factor as a low cost solution whilst at the same time getting some mobility.

One of the biggest challenges for enterprises in the long run will how they cope with people who only want to have one device – their personal one, and still expose corporate assets to them. This is related to the security model discussions that I’ve had on my blog previously.

The other thing worth noting is that in all my time being a mobile user (7 y

ears), my laptop has only ever been infected once. Obviously the infection was stopped dead in its tracks by AV software that quarantined the file. This wasn’t from being connected at home or to the Internet – it was connected to one of those enterprise networks which we think are strongholds of goodness.

Its a jungle out there, everywhere.

Ergonomics

I agree here. I think that some of the devices that we have seen thus far are pretty damn ugly. Microsoft really needs to learn from Apple here in terms of getting a sleek package. One of the prototype designs that Otto Berkes showed was pretty good (its the really thin one).

Personally, I’d like to see something that is similar to the design below. It would reduce wrist strain because it shifts the centre of balance close to the hand that is holding it which would also make it easier for one handed operation. An – of course, you would need a grip to make sure you didn’t drop it.

OrigamiDesign

Other factors would also be important. For example, I want to get my daughter one of these so I should be able to replace the cover with something girly – ping with flowers or something like that. Actually on Otto Berkes wall I spied a pink device so they may have already thought of that.

Summary

I think that there is a market for these things. I can see us having three of them in our household and while they won’t be everyones kettle of fish I think that once people get them in their hands they will feel the utility of them.