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On The Scene

Tech companies go into battle at CeBIT

By CNN's Jim Boulden

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Jim Boulden tests out the latest gadgets on display at CeBIT.

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On the Scene
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HANNOVER, Germany (CNN) -- I arrived at Hall One at the massive CeBIT trade fair on Wednesday night in in search of the mysterious new wireless device known only as Origami.

The tech trade show, which draws half-a-million people each year to Hannover, Germany, was still 10 hours from opening.

It was a challenge to sneak over to the Samsung booth. Carpenters worked frantically to finish off stands. The carpet layers couldn't finish their work until everyone else did. It was clear most of the people around the hall would be up all night.

But the people at Samsung were ready and the little black boxes, no bigger than a book, were already on display.

What was it? Was it the "killer app" to displace the iPod or the PSP? Rumors, helped along by Microsoft, of something called Origami prestaged this week-long show.

And there it was. Only Samsung calls it the Q1. The Korean hardware manufacturer used its knowhow in laptops to make this ultra small PC.

It weighs less than kilo and will cost around a thousand dollars. It certainly won't replace the iPod in your pocket, but it plays music, games, DVDs, can act as a mobile phone, connects to the Internet via wi-fi and has Bluetooth etc etc. It is a laptop ... only much smaller.

Microsoft is loading the Q1 up with Windows for the tablet PC. But its the touch screen and unsual display of an virtual keyboard that was developed under the code name Origami.

Microsoft said on Thursday the Q1 is not meant to replace your iPod or your phone, but does combine all these functions into one. And it expects the ultra-PC to be a much more consumer friendly device and to sell better than its much hyped but under achieving tablet PC.

It is very cold and snowy here in Hannover, and customers for the devices on hand shiver as they pass from one of the 27 football pitch sized halls.

Companies from Vodafone to SAP to IBM to Microsoft are spending a lot of money and effort to show off new efforts like the Q1 here, but it comes down to whether us consumers will buy in to it, or give them a cold shoulder.

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