A while back we learned about an upcoming new device called the Microsoft Courier. Since then the announcement and impending release of the Apple iPad has somewhat stolen the spotlight, but now the dust has settled, rumours of the Courier have risen once more and from what i can gather so far, the device most certainly has potential.
Of course, nothing is set in stone, but Engadget ran a post featuring pictures and video’s of the potential features and user interface of the courier and claimed news arrived from, and i quote, ‘an extremely trusted source’.
So what’s it all about then? Well my initial impression tells me that you would be mistaken to perceive the device as an iPad competitor. Whilst the dual screens would make it an excellent ebook-reader, it seems it would have difficulty being an adequate portable media player or lightweight gaming option such as the iPad. It is in fact described as a ‘digital journal’, which sums it up quite nicely in my opinion.
It is said to run from the same operating system as the Zune HD and Windows Mobile 7 Series, which is most likely Windows CE 6. From the video’s on Engadget, it seems that the main source of input into the device will be a pen/stylus. However, before you jump in and think poorly of it, consider that the handwriting recognition technology behind it, is so accurate that it allows you to simply scribble in the name of a contact to send an email, or write in a web address to be taken to the site. The seemingly near perfect quality of the technology makes the need for any tricky on screen keyboard or pointing device, pretty much negligible.
So why would you want a Courier or “digital journal”? Well if you’re the sort of busy businessman that currently is forced to carry folder upon folder, diary upon diary etc. perhaps in a large briefcase, then the Courier allows you to consolidate all of you separate sources of notes, contacts, news stories etc. into a single lightweight device no more than an inch thick. Judging by the mock-ups it seems to be the ultimate, portable collaboration device. Although in addition to that, it also seems to be a very capable web browsing and email device.
Physically, the device has always been rumoured to have dual screens which fold together in order to provide an authentic ‘book’ like experience. This remains true with these unofficial mock ups which is a major attraction for buyers of e-readers as well as those who will use it as a business journal/diary.
It is also rumoured to have a built in camera (unlike the iPad) which will add extra functionality. In the video’s they used the example of a designer snapping shots of materials and collecting a journal of thoughts, meetings and such, hence maintaining an entire project with just one single device.
With this just being an initial mock up/rumour, there are no details of pricing or availability, however Engadget have been informed of a Q3/Q4 release date. This would suggest very little intent of competing with the iPad or I’m sure they would have battled for a sooner release. Perhaps they’re leaving that to the recently announced HP Slate device.
So, are you keen to get your mits on an Apple iPad? Is it useful? Or are you willing to wait and see what other tablet-style alternatives appear in the coming months? Does the Microsoft Courier digitial journal seem like more of an actual work device? Take a look at the following concept videos and then tell us what you think to them in the comments below!