Late last week Gizmodo revealed details about a secret Microsoft tablet codenamed â€œCourier.â€ The mockup video and photos show a dual-screen, book-shaped device about the size of a small business planner. Though historically tablet computing has not been a particularly hot topic, this sleek device has a number of features that could potentially be a game-changer for the software giant.
Based on the video expose and leaked images, the device sports a slick multi-touch interface. Tasks and apps can be manipulated via fingertip or stylus and flicked between screens a la-iPhone. The Courier supposedly supports WiFi & 3G as well as fully functional browser. The tablet also is expected to sport a camera and an inductive charger that would allow you to simply drop it onto a charging pad rather than tether it up to an AC power supply or cradle.
Though the screens may not be as power efficient or easy on the eyes as the Kindleâ€™s single grayscale screen, the hinged, book-like form factor will seem a more natural medium for reading e-books. And because itâ€™s full-color and apparently based on a powerful processor, the device should beautifully support rich-text documents. Which may finally be the catalyst for bringing those glossy, high-color magazine publications to the digital realm. Though companies such as Zinio have done a superb job at extending the reach of those mags to the Web, they fall short in the portability department. A Zinio-powered Courier app for magazines could be the lever to breathe new life into their circulations and simultaneously help green-up the planet.
And of course, there are the more advantageous uses for an always-connected, media device. Over-the-top media distribution is making a major play in 2010 with a wide range of connected devices and services. I would not be at all surprised to see this gadget positioned as a portable media device connectable to the Zune Marketplace. Thus exposing a deep well of on-demand music, video & podcasts.
The portrayed scrap-booking in the demo is a perfect visual tool for data sharing. Include a GPS chip and you may have the worldâ€™s best, location-aware social networking gadget. And considering the explosive growth of social portals like Facebook, a well designed social networking tool could conceivably be the killer app that puts this puppy over the top.
Reality check. MS is not commenting on the authenticity of the Courier leak. So, at this point it is unclear if this uber-gadget will ever hit the marketplace. All I can say is; based on the speculative features, I would gladly fork over my hard-earned duckets for this device in a New York minute.