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Microsoft is looking to beat Apple to the touch-tablet PC market with a multitouch bi-tablet. With 7" multitouch screens the product will also likely serve as a high-end competitor to netbooks and e-book readers.  (Source: Gizmodo)

  (Source: Gizmodo)

  (Source: Gizmodo)

  (Source: Gizmodo)
Microsoft will soon be expanding its hardware offerings with a tablet release

Microsoft dropped a blockbuster product announcement yesterday via Gizmodo.  After months of Apple-tablet rumors, including word that Steve Jobs himself is masterminding the device, it is Apple's competitor Microsoft that has stolen the spotlight with the announcement of an upcoming touchscreen ultra-mobile device.

The new device was developed with positively Apple-like secrecy.  Only a handful of engineers worked on or were aware of the device, whose development was led by Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices tech chief and user-experience chief J. Allard.  The device is almost finished, with Microsoft currently refining the user interface experience of the "late prototype" and showing it to outside agencies.

The "Courier" touchscreen prototype features a book-like design with two 7" screens -- kind of like a jumbo Nintendo DSi.  Both screens support multitouch, and you can write with either your fingers or a stylus.  The UI features traditional multitouch flair like flick gestures to trigger actions.  The GUI has battery and wireless signal indicators by the rim of one of the screens, keeping them unobtrusive.  A particularly slick aspect of the UI is that images can be moved to the hinge "pocket" to transfer them between screens with ease.

The device also features a built-in camera on its back.  As no wires were seen, its rumored to charge using induction, somewhat like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for the Pre smart phone.  Overall the device is smaller (7" vs. 10") than the expected Apple device, but features a very slick and chic look.  Expect the device to potentially take on e-book readers like the Kindle as well, as its interface seems perfect for reading on the go.

As with the Zune and Xbox before it, the Courier seems to be advancing rapidly through the phase of Microsoft seeking outside help to round of the device's features, software, and to develop service packages for it.

More details are forthcoming on the product.  It seems that with the release of the much-anticipated Zune HD, Microsoft's hardware division is eager to keep on a roll.



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RE: My dream mobile machine?
By FITCamaro on 9/23/2009 10:04:05 AM , Rating: 2
This needs to be paired with really good ebook software. It'd be great if the makers of Kindle would license their software to Microsoft.


RE: My dream mobile machine?
By lightfoot on 9/23/2009 2:27:31 PM , Rating: 2
You can count on it. Amazon (the maker of the Kindle) is in the business of selling books, not hardware.

Kindle has already released software for the iPhone stating this as a fact.


RE: My dream mobile machine?
By hadifa on 9/23/2009 7:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
What I was thinking was that one of the screens should have been eInk. Think about it. It can be used for reading books using low batery when the other screen is off. It can be the keyboard screen, the touch pad where you can use the other screen as the main screen and so on.

This would improve battery life and IMHO usefulness of the product overall.


RE: My dream mobile machine?
By lightfoot on 9/23/2009 7:23:32 PM , Rating: 3
maybe...

I love the eInk technology and it does have its uses.

However, in this case I think that the limitations of eInk would out weigh the advantages (namely low power consumption.) If this device uses OLED screens, the battery life should still be quite good (but will be more expensive.) And will be a far more capable device.

eInk is currently monochrome, and has very slow refresh rates; both problems would greatly diminish the utility of a device such as this.


RE: My dream mobile machine?
By afkrotch on 9/24/2009 2:28:01 AM , Rating: 2
Fujitsu Flepia. Color ebook using eInk. Still has slow refresh rates, but is in color.


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