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Microsoft touts PC-like portable ''Origami'' device

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Jack Writes:A new portable media device that allows users to listen to music, play video games, browse the Internet and jot hand-written notes is the initial vision of a product in development by Microsoft Corp. and its partners, the software giant said on Monday.

Microsoft acknowledged that an early version of its new hand-held PC-like device was featured in a video on the Web site for marketing firm Digital Kitchen.

"While Origami is a concept we've been working on with partners, please know that the video seen on Digital Kitchen's Web site is a year old and represents our initial exploration into this form factor, including possible uses and scenarios," a Microsoft spokesman said.

While some media reports flagged the product as a possible rival to Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod digital music player or Sony Corp.'s PlayStation Portable game device, "Origami" seemed to incorporate more functions and appeared to be much larger than those gadgets.

The company declined to disclose details about the device, including when it might be available for sale, but it said there would be announcements over the coming weeks.

The device appeared to be a tablet PC, a notebook-shaped computer that allows users to write with a digital pen to input text on handwriting recognition software. It was about the size of a oversized post-card.

The video showed young people using the "Origami" device to sketch pictures, use a map with global positioning satellite technology, listen to digital music and play "Halo", a popular Microsoft video game.

It was not immediately clear whether the product would be a Microsoft-branded device or if the software giant would simply provide software and services. Microsoft would not reveal the identity of its partners on the project.

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