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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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Light years ahead...
By xpax on 3/8/2010 10:29:37 AM , Rating: 3
This is light years ahead of the iPad. If you think otherwise, see your therapist -- you're delusional.

The Courier is a well thought out device that is more like a PDA than a general tablet. Check out the videos, the interface provides a slick and intuitive experience. It's designed to do most things the average person needs to do on-the-go and to do them quickly and easily. The handwriting recognition will be top-notch.

The iPad on the other hand, is just a big iPod Touch -- it brings nothing new to the table whatsoever. No new interface paradigm, no handwriting recognition, and an on-screen keyboard that will be absolutely useless unless the device is on a table. It is exactly what I said, a big iPod Touch -- everything is just scaled up. Other than that, there's nothing new or exciting about it.

RE: Light years ahead...
By Babbui on 3/8/2010 2:02:03 PM , Rating: 2
That's quite advanced considering it doesn't even exist!

RE: Light years ahead...
By xpax on 3/8/2010 2:04:58 PM , Rating: 2
That's quite advanced considering it doesn't even exist!

I have a friend at Microsoft who is working on this product. I'm not even going into the features that haven't already been leaked -- needless to say, they're substantial.

It's way beyond the slapped-together mess that Apple is selling.

RE: Light years ahead...
By adiposity on 3/8/2010 6:25:49 PM , Rating: 2
It's mostly pointless to compare unreleased products with released ones.

For one thing, they exist in different markets because they are not released in the same time frame. By the time we see this on the market, what will the date be?

For another, we cannot compare performance, advertised "features" (that we don't know for sure yet will be there), screen readability, or the overall experience, until we actually have one to test.

It sounds like you are more informed than most of us, but an independent reviewer's opinion is probably more valuable than someone who works on the project. Microsoft has screwed up more than one product launch.

That said, the product looks cool and I would definitely consider getting one. By pre-specs alone, I'm fairly confident its feature set will be superior to the iPad. Hopefully its battery performance and OS don't ruin it.


"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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