Microsoft Handheld Glimpsed Gaming Functionality and 360 Link Possible?

Cue dramatic music...

Posted by Staff
SPOnG has watched patiently over the last few days as news of a Microsoft-engineered portable device has slowly bubbled to the top of the gaming quagmire, and can now report that what originally looked certain to be little more than a disappointment now looks increasingly more like one of the biggest gaming stories in a long time.

Reports from the tech sector spoke of a machine codenamed Origami, a moniker Microsoft has bandied around for some time, destined for an unannounced device. It looks as though the Redmond software giant is poised to unveil a high-end multimedia and gaming device sporting the name and is going to show its cards, from what we can tell, on March 3, 2006 just three days away at the time of writing.

The Origami device would appear to be the finalised portable device Microsoft originally touted last year at a conference in Seattle, when the firm made reference to plans to release a machine it dubbed Ultra Mobile 2007. From that conference, videos cropped up on several sites a year after the event, only to be taken down within minutes of being posted. One, hosted by DigitalKitchen, showed the device running Halo (believed to be the PC version) flawlessly.

Have a look at this website from which the grabs to the right of this piece are taken. It is registered to Microsoft and called Origami Project and clearly refers to a full-scale showing of something on March 3.

Or course, speculation is rife (and well-grounded) that the Origami, essentially a closed-platform tablet PC from what we can tell, will become part of Microsoft's increasingly aggressive push from the offices of the world into the living spaces of its inhabitants. The Origami, stated to cost between $500 and $800 by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, is likely to bridge the gap between the Xbox 360 and the PC, perhaps opening non-Media Center machines to the HD era of looking at pretty stuff from sofas. After all, isn't looking at pretty stuff in high-definition what the future's all about. It must be. We're told it is 17 times a minute...

We'll have the full skinny on the Origami as soon as possible. So don't go reading any other sites, bitches! We'll know if you have. Let us know your thoughts on the Origami in the forum below.
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Comments

thane_jaw 28 Feb 2006 10:30
1/18
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/27/technology/27origami.html?ex=1298696400&en=8701a145ae552165&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss


The Web site, www.origamiproject.com, suggests that the introduction of a personalized mobile device that "will change your life" is in the offing, but gives no details. It promises an update on Thursday.


Frank Shaw, a spokesman for Microsoft, said Saturday that the company was not planning an announcement on Thursday, but that it would have something to talk about at an industry event next month. He would not comment on the intent of the Web site but confirmed that it did belong to Microsoft. The Digital Kitchen video, he said, was created about a year ago and shows an early prototype of Origami.
kid_77 28 Feb 2006 10:54
2/18
Well, 80s retro is just about still "in", right?

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thane_jaw 28 Feb 2006 12:18
3/18
Had to copy and paste the first post because I spilled beer on my keyboard last night. doh.

Anyway, I'm interested to see how they pitch this. Whilst it seems like it can be used as a gaming device - it seems more like an executive toy then anything else. A sort of easy to use portable laptop which could be linked with vista. Although there doesn't appear to be a keyboard on that mock up.

Given the psp's moderately successful entry into the portable gaming/(umd porn) market, if microsoft are able to provide better functionality then the psp and the ability to run current gen games off an internal harddrive they could possibly capture the mobile ps2/xbox market. Whether they'll come anywhere close to the ds is another thing.
kid_77 28 Feb 2006 12:45
4/18
For M$' sake this had better be a fake, or an early prototype. It's WAY too big.

thane_jaw 28 Feb 2006 13:20
5/18
But they'd lose their PC tablet functionality if it was any smaller?

It really depends how they're pitching this, as a pure gaming device, yeah a bit too big. but if they're pitching it like those portable macs with the built in carrying case from a few years back then its about the right size.

I don't think this thing is intended to be carried in a poctet ala the DS/PSP. Like the 360, I can imagine a wide range of official consumer products which you can sling it in and take with you (at the same time marking yourself out for savvy muggers, much like wearing white earphone).

Rather then the PSP, is this MS' answer to Sony's vaio (or indeed any manufacturer's) range of laptops?

Here's hoping they've got something evolutionary.
LUPOS 28 Feb 2006 16:16
6/18
thane_jaw wrote:
But they'd lose their PC tablet functionality if it was any smaller?


i imagine its not a gaming machien or a tablet PC but rather MS attempt to get a jump on the unified device of the future. with the ever looming "convergance" being talked about so often in relation to consoles and pc, this seems like the mobile version. one device that handles all your pc needs, plays games, play movies, has large storage, wifi and cellular high speed connection, bluetooth for a head set... touch screen interface super duper do it all mega device.

to big for a pocket but way smaller than a laptop.

its the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy ver .0.0.0.0.0.0.1
ann0uk 28 Feb 2006 18:16
7/18
I really dont think this is meant to be a competitor to GameBoy, DS or PSP. This is basically a portable hardrive that acts like a PC, it is the ultimate portable media centre, I quite like it even though it is big and retro looking. It is all about functionality.
This belongs in a different market not the handheld gaming sector.
thane_jaw 28 Feb 2006 19:11
8/18


I agree its not going to be primarily a gaming device or indeed a competitor to the ds or gameboy. However it looks as though gaming will be supported and I can imagine origami only or 360 compatible (in the same way the psp is supposed to add functionality to some ps3 games) games.

With regards to the ultimate portable media centre - I'd proffer some suggestions. Depending on the pricing, this thing could make the psp look very silly. All i've heard consistently about handheld gaming devices on the internet (mainly podcasts such as gaming steve and major nelson (yes I know he works for microsoft, but his podcasts appear to represent his views, rather then microsoft's), but also blogs and web features) is that the DS has awesome games whilst the psp has some good games but is ultimately being used as a portable media device (the fact they stock more umd movies then games in my local game stores would support this view). If people with lots of disposable income (e.g. professional males in the 25-35 range, no kids, salary of over 20 grand a year) are buying the psp on the strength of the media functionality and the "cool" expensive elusive hardware factor, what's to stop them blowing an extra couple of hundred quid on a device that'll play "homebrew" games (i'm assuming that you'll be able to put small (under 500mb) games on the harddrive), watch video, play music, pretend that you'll use for work and (depending on the interface) be fairly simple to use. All this and (as spong says) its in high def so it'll super wicked cool.

As you can hopefully see, I've made a LOT of inferences and assumptions about this device. I'd love for something evolutionary to be shown, although I'm reserving judgement until we see something. I'm also not trying to slam the psp, I'm suggesting that origami should surpass its media functions - which is, as far as I can see, its current unique selling point (liberty city stories doesn't count cos they're porting it to the ps2). Its also far too early for sony to release a new portable gaming device (reaction to rumours of a psp v.2 with webcam and built in harddrive seems to be fairly hostile - especially amongst current psp owners - a new handheld console would definately not be recieved warmly), at least in the immediate 2 years from now (not even mentioning development costs and research time).

Anyway basically the questions I'm trying to ask are: would people prefer added functionality for an increased price, does it seem like that origami will deliver it and what implication would this have for a comparatively dated psp?
ann0uk 28 Feb 2006 19:33
9/18
Sony have really tried to push the PSP as a media centre as well as a gaming device.
I really feel that Microsofts device competes more with PSP than it does more conventional handhelds, and in many ways it is better.
I feel that PSP is a great piece of hardware but the memory sticks are too expensive, with the Origami there will be more freedom and the inclusion of a hard drive is a great idea which will offer far more space than the Duo sticks.
If it only looked better.
LUPOS 28 Feb 2006 20:35
10/18
thane_jaw wrote:
would people prefer added functionality for an increased price, does it seem like that origami will deliver it and what implication would this have for a comparatively dated psp?


havign doen the biz travel bit a few times i woudl have to say somethign that can handle my general laptop functions... writing, downlaoding photos/vids... internet... but fits in a form factor relative to a thin book is damn apealing.
specialy if it cost similar to a cheap laptop.

less shoulder pain... less batery consumption... easier use when not at a table... more functional than a pda for larger documents... if its got built in or eve pcmci car option so i can get on the wireless network form my cell provider id be please at spiked punch to spend more than a few hundred on one.
Joji 28 Feb 2006 22:06
11/18
Looks interesting but I'll stick with DS and PSP. Another western contender in the handheld market could be too much to stomach.

MS entering the handheld market i think would just rubbish the industry further with highly priced games.

Handheld games need something that most home games don't offer. I doubt if MS can compete with Nintendo on this front.

We'll see in a few days what the noisy squeak is all about.
thane_jaw 28 Feb 2006 22:38
12/18
Joji wrote:
Looks interesting but I'll stick with DS and PSP. Another western contender in the handheld market could be too much to stomach.

MS entering the handheld market i think would just rubbish the industry further with highly priced games.

Handheld games need something that most home games don't offer. I doubt if MS can compete with Nintendo on this front.



From what I can gather researching it today, is that it wasn't going to be just another handheld gaming device adn that it'd be offering greater functionality akin to a laptop. I have to say, with the advances in technology and software about to be/ have been released (multi-core threading, vista, shiny little 360s) microsoft may be playing a really smart game with their multi-pronged attack on the lifestyle.

I have to ask, if handheld games need to offer something that home consoles can't, why do you say that you'll stick with the psp when as far as i can tell (e.g. quick trip to amazon and messing about on one in GAME) its a portable neutered ps2? I can definately understand sticking with the ds, I love mine and i can't wait for the new version, which will be the first time I've rebought a gaming device even though i already own a functioning original.

Anyway hopefully it'll take cds/dvds (i can't imagine it wouldn't, hell maybe even the fabled hddvd'll be included) compatable with windows - so barring origami only titles, there shouldn't be a massive increase in development costs since they'd already be developed for the pc?
vault 13 1 Mar 2006 03:50
13/18
LUPOS wrote:
...id be please at spiked punch to spend more than a few hundred on one.


What does that mean!?!?!?!?!?

Anyways, laptops do it better and have more view space, tablet pcs cost less, weigh less, and are already out, and pdas do it all in a pocket size WITH a keyboard. I don't think this is anything new. I don't think this is anything to start riding the M$ cockwagon about. But it did give me an interesting idea, wiring houses with bluetooth. Lightswitches, blinds, alarm systems, etc. A cheap and effective way to control a house with a simple PDA interface. I REALIZE this can be done now, but I don't have millions, nor thousands, barely hundreds, and not enough tens to dole out for it. It would surely reduce home install costs, right?

Oh and by the way, I make barely over $20,000 and I don't have enough for a PSP or DS or any other handheld device. Over $40,000 would be more appropo.
LUPOS 1 Mar 2006 05:56
14/18
vault 13 wrote:
Oh and by the way, I make barely over $20,000 and I don't have enough for a PSP or DS or any other handheld device. Over $40,000 would be more appropo.


seeing as you barely make enoughmoney to buy "light bulbs", let alone blutooth "light switches" and never do any buisness traveling... perhaps this "multimedia device" (i.e. not a portable game system by any means people, get it through your heads) is not aimed at you.

this is for the full on middle class folk who want laptop like power with tablet style input at a closer to pda size, withouthavign to sacrifice storage (or so i am assuming). it is NOT a game console... i think if anythign the guy playing halo is intended to illustrate the systems power.

give me a 6"x8"(-ish) tablet pc that cun run halo1 quality games and do evedrything else a real laptop can for 500 or less and im all over it... might even go as high as a thou, but depends on other features.
thane_jaw 1 Mar 2006 13:56
15/18
vault 13 wrote:


Oh and by the way, I make barely over $20,000 and I don't have enough for a PSP or DS or any other handheld device. Over $40,000 would be more appropo.



Sorry I was talking about 20 grand u.k. pounds, translated to about $35112 (as of 13:22 gmt today), so yeah you're right people earning over $40,000 with few additional attachments (e.g. kids, expensive hobbies/ sport) would be MS' target demographic (in my opinion).

EDIT: "Bill Mitchell, vice president of mobile platforms at Microsoft, said a couple of weeks ago at a conference that Microsoft hopes the handheld devices can sell for $500 to $800. That's much cheaper than similar Windows handhelds from San Francisco's OQO, which sells its device for $1,900 and up."

They mention in the above article it needs to be aggressively priced. Also they mention that: "But the device economizes on hardware to hit much lower price targets. It has no DVD drive and a keyboard is optional."

So it appears my hope for original windows games compatble with it running off dvd are dashed. It doesn't say whether this extends to a cd drive as well.

With your comment about needing a keyboard, yeah pda's have keyboards and offer basic functionality. However I find those diddy keyboards a real pain to use and i find that my fingers begin to ache. I can't imagine that there won't be some kind of keyboard style text input system. I'm assuming that microsoft would keep some kind of office functionality on there, using a stylus to input data would do my head in and I imagine any decent QA department would note this before anything is finalised. Indeed although this thing has been in development since last year, I can't imagine this will be released any time soon - I don't think its vapour ware but I see a launch similar to the 360, where their promo websites came out about 9-6 months before the actual release of the system.

Without wanting to get into a MS = bad/good debate - they have phenomenal resources, both with cash and well educated intelligent employees. And they've shown that they're willing to spend a lot to research and break into new areas. the xbox and 360 are really good examples of this - showing a design not fully realised (e.g. the xbox) expanded upon, improved and taken in ways noone would have expected from a console manufacturer, let alone a pc software developer. Whether this is what we want or not is something else, I'm just trying to say its indicitive of MS willingness at the moment to try something new and having the resources to do it well (if that's what they want).

Applications for these devices could be cool. Yeah its the future, but it'd be sweet if school kids could have a similar style portable tablet pc - which they'd be able to use in class and carry with them to school. Seriously, I know I'm probably coming accross as sucking ms cock a lot in this thread but I'm not intending to buy one (unlike vault 13 I'm not actually earning anything at the moment and I've got other priorities to spend my as of now unearned cash on, so hey, my mum's more likely to get one then i am - its kinda sad when your parents adopt new technology before you), i'm just really excited by the possibilities that this device could achieve.

Well at least I will be until it all gets dashed on the rocks when MS reveals what it actually is.

vault 13 1 Mar 2006 17:18
16/18
LUPOS wrote:
give me a 6"x8"(-ish) tablet pc that cun run halo1 quality games and do evedrything else a real laptop can for 500 or less and im all over it... might even go as high as a thou, but depends on other features.


Still looks like a crappy tablet PC to me. I don't see what's new. And if it's going be that and have all the functionality of a laptop, it's gonna be expensive. I give it two preview thumbs down!

We'll see how the Cockwagon(tm) markets this...
thane_jaw 1 Mar 2006 17:37
17/18
I refer the above to my previous post.

"Bill Mitchell, vice president of mobile platforms at Microsoft, said a couple of weeks ago at a conference that Microsoft hopes the handheld devices can sell for $500 to $800. That's much cheaper than similar Windows handhelds from San Francisco's OQO, which sells its device for $1,900 and up."

Admittedly it doesn't satisfy Vault 13's argument that it'll be a crappy laptop - indeed the hardware restrictions (e.g. no dvd, keyboards appearing to be optional) to keep the cost down does remove some functionality. As has already been mentioned this is beginning to sound more akin to a quasi large video ipod/gaming device/ mobile media centre. It really depends how they're going to market it.

Also from what I've gathered from gamingsteve's latest podcast and the above article, it seems that rather then developing their own hardware MS will be developing origami as an OS for these handheld devices. Intel also appears to be one of the manufacturers. Make of this what you will.
thane_jaw 8 Mar 2006 09:34
18/18

all quoted from a post suggesting Intel are releasing info next tuesday:



"The key feature of the new devices, Graff said, is the ability to get the full Internet, with plug-ins and other advanced Web features. Entertainment--including music, movies and TV--is probably the second biggest selling point, he said.

Although Intel has consumers in mind for the Ultra Mobile PCs, Graff said he expects technology enthusiasts, as well as some niche business and education customers, to be the most likely buyers of the first generation of devices, which will sell for under $1,000.

"We expect this to be a real consumer product and to do that, you have to be able to hit real consumer price points," he said.

Intel also found in its testing that the devices appeal to active mothers, who, the chipmaker learned, have schedules similar to corporate road warriors.
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