With Apple recently announcing the availability of the iPad for pre-order, Microsoft showed up with a bit of news of its own on its tablet PC. The Microsoft Courier is "digital journal" that is under one inch think, under half a kg in weight and will just be the size of a large index card (or a moleskin notebook, for that matter) when folded up. Pretty neat stuff there.
It's not going to be a full-blown tablet as expected but the dual-screen device will be built upon the Tegra 2 and will run on some flavor of Windows CE, similar to the Zune HD. The user interface will be touch-based but mainly focused on writing and drawing. In addition to journaling, it will also serve as an eBook platform with Microsoft building an entire reading marketplace around it. It will also have a camera and headphone jack, opening it up for some video blogging and music playback as well.
All this looks very promising and while the iPad is targeting media consumption, the main goal for Microsoft seems to be media creation. If the image above is to be believed, this would provide some very precise handwriting capabilities which even the iPhone doesn't have yet. A mini tablet that acts like a digital notebook would be a perfect complement to the iPad's digital book interface.
Expect the Microsoft courier to launch later this year.
See more info and photos here.
I’ve been testing out a couple of new tablet PCs for our experimental lab at school over the past couple weeks (more details on this soon). A couple of impressions I’ve had are:
- Having a digital stylus is very nice and allows a tablet to serve as a pretty good replacement for paper. I understand why the iPad doesn’t have a stylus and it’s probably the right marketing/design decision for Apple, but I still really wish it did.
- This is only true if the tablet is small enough, light enough, and has a long enough battery life to be easy to use on a daily basis. My ThinkPad is simply too big, too heavy, and only gets 1 to 1-1/2 hours of battery life. (I could probably increase this by 50% if I bought a new battery for it.)
If the Courier works as the videos below show, it is as responsive as an iPhone, gets similar battery life to the iPad (10 hours), and is priced competitively with an iPad – Microsoft may have a real winner on their hands and could provide a good challenge to the iPad for many users. Let’s hope they succeed. Who knows? It might even run Flash.