Sure, the PBJ SmartCaddie may be nothing more than the Japanese version of the TabletKiosk eo (or is it the other way around?), but its official launch this week was reason enough for Microsoft to fly Bill Mitchell, father of the "ultramobile lifestyle PC" concept, out to Japan for the event. To drive the point home, Mitchell emphasized that the Japanese market is crucial to the success of the UMPC platform. Microsoft also showed off some homegrown apps for the Japanese market, including one designed to teach schoolchildren kanji, which will be tested this month with a group of third graders. As for the SmartCaddie itself, specs are in line with what we've already seen for the TabletKiosk, including a Via C7-M ULV at 1 GHz, 512MB RAM, 40GB hard drive and a thoroughly unimpressive battery life of 2.5 hours. The Japanese price will be ¥99,800 or about $848, putting it roughly in line with the TabletKiosk's $900 US price. Based on this and other pricing information we've seen, it seems safe to say that we're not going to see a first-gen UMPC for under $800, and that some will hit the market for over a grand, making Mitchell's dream of a $500 box something that will have to wait for future versions -- or Overstock.com if the platform doesn't make it past 1.0.

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SmartCaddie gets pricing, send off from Microsoft brass