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Microsoft's dual-screen Courier e-Book reader/journal device reportedly will wage war with Apple's iPad late this year.  (Source: Engadget)

The device is reportedly powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 2 and includes a camera.  (Source: Engadget)

The device will use the same OS code base used by the Zune HD and Windows Mobile 7 operating systems.  (Source: Engadget)
Details on the upcoming portable e-book reader/journal device leak

It may be a battle of the tablets when two of the electronics industry's biggest stars -- Microsoft and Apple -- go head to head with competing tablet designs later this year.  According to Engadget,whose sources were some of the first to leak details on Microsoft's upcoming Courier tablet, Microsoft will release the Courier in Q3 or Q4 of this year.

Apple's iPad certainly turned some heads when it was previewed in January, though not all of the attention it received was positive.  Despite curiously selecting a name that was once used in a Mad TV parody skit about feminine hygiene products, the device is sure to draw some early customers, if nothing else, when it launches to Wi-Fi and 3G forms in April (April 3 for the Wi-Fi version).

Long time Apple rival Microsoft has been working on its own tablet for nearly as long as the Cupertino corporation.  In September 2009, even as Apple's designs remained secret and unknown, pictures and details about Microsoft's Courier dual-screen tablet device first aired.

Since, Apple has taken the reins with its big January iPad announcement, and Microsoft has been curiously quiet.  However, 
Engadget's source has leaked a lot of new information about the upcoming tablet.

According to the source, the Courier will weigh just over a pound (similar to the iPad, which weighs 1.6 lb) and will function as a "digital journal"-cum-eBook reader.  It will be under and inch thick and have a closed size about as big as a 5x7 inch picture.  Its two screens will reportedly be powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 2, a ultra-low-voltage Cortex A9 ARM processor.

The tablet will run on the same base OS that Windows Mobile 7 and the Zune HD OS are built on, Windows CE 6.  The device will center around writing and drawing, with the ability to post everything you write to a personal website with flexible sharing levels.  Like the iPad, the Courier will have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, but it one-ups its fruity competitor, offering a built-in camera as well.

Engadget has new HD videos of the device in action, but the content is mostly the sames as the preview videos that aired in September.  The focus on journal activities is reiterated in them.

Ultimately, the iPad and the Courier are both very alike and very different.  Both share the same challenges -- a public that for years has been lukewarm to tablet devices and the challenge of selling an eye strain-inducing LCD device as an eBook reader.  At the same time, both devices may be able to carve out a niche for themselves by their different perks in addition to being an eBook reader.  In Apple's case it's the iPad's app library, which includes the ability to run higher resolution apps.  In Microsoft's case it's the journal functionality of the device, which seems well suited for the blog-loving busy current internet population.

It should be interesting to see who comes out on top when the pair go head to head sometime late this year or early next year.

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Will it do internet video?
By nafhan on 3/8/2010 10:09:50 AM , Rating: 3
Same as the iPad, streaming video will be the deal breaker for me on this class of devices. This thing would need to have either Flash or stand alone "apps" for (at minimum) Hulu and Netflix in order to catch my interest. That gets me wondering if MS's Xbox/Netflix deal might come into play...
Yeah, competition!

RE: Will it do internet video?
By mmntech on 3/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: Will it do internet video?
By StevoLincolnite on 3/8/2010 11:35:20 AM , Rating: 2
I think we may end up with Silverlight instead, maybe.

RE: Will it do internet video?
By Pirks on 3/8/2010 12:18:35 PM , Rating: 1 <- "Microsoft would prefer to use its own Silverlight plugin instead"

RE: Will it do internet video?
By Roffles on 3/8/2010 2:51:15 PM , Rating: 2
Really now, I've heard this comment too many times for this sort of device. "This device is worthless to me without Hulu, NetFlix, Flash, Video farting around and wasting time." What I see in the Currier demo is a portable device that is going to help me organize my personal and business life. It's time to think big and have a dream. Leave your movies and video games at home while your out in the world making life happen.

RE: Will it do internet video?
By afkrotch on 3/8/2010 7:42:40 PM , Rating: 2
Why not just leave all electronic devices at home then? While you're at it, get a big backpack, some trail mix, a bottle of water, and just go hiking along the Iranian border too.

I sit on a train for 2 hours going to Seoul. I'd like to have something nice to pass the time, instead of staring at other ppl.

RE: Will it do internet video?
By Roffles on 3/8/2010 10:16:51 PM , Rating: 2
No? Their are endless PMP's and E-readers out there that that are designed for people who sit on trains. Go buy one of those if that's how you want to spend your morning and stop projecting your wants and needs onto a device that is clearly demonstrated to be used for something else.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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