So, Gizmodo released more information about the Microsoft Courier tablet PC, including an explanatory video of the UI in use. After multiple viewings I think I can safely say that I've never been as excited about a gadget as I am about this tablet. If Microsoft can put a real product into production that works this way, they will blow the tech world's collective mind.
It is important to note that the real Courier UI may very well end up being absolutely nothing like this video. Until we see some mass-advertisements showcasing the finished interface, everything in this video is subject to change. That said, the UI now looks much more polished than it did in the first video, and my untrained eyes can't see anything that needs to be altered.
My favorite aspect of the Courier UI has to be the file browsing system. Microsoft set it up to be sort of like a digital file cabinet. That should make storing notes and finding the info you need a total snap.
The core of the product revolves around the "infinite journal", which is a scrapbook like utility that contains, well, whatever you want. Clipped sections from webpages, saved photos, drawings, diagrams, shorthand notes and more can all be stored as pages in this journal. Users will be able to save and even publish their journals online for others to read. You'll be able to save your work as either a Courier file, Powerpoint, or PDF.
The "hinge" between both 7" screens remains sort of a storage point. Drag and drop a photo there and you can then browse over to the page you want, pick the photo up from the hinge, and drop it onto its new home. Most of the work on this tablet seems to be done by the stylus, although browsing and flipping through pages is still a task for the fingers.
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When the news first broke that Microsoft was making a tablet, I think most of us expected the same thing. We'd have to wait for Apple to release their tablet, and then Microsoft would show up with a similar, Zune-esque knock-off shortly thereafter. Instead, Redmond has seized the center stage and is now offering a tablet product that knocks any other tablet concepts out of the park.
Most tablet PCs that we see are just MIDs or low-end netbooks built in the form of a tablet. That's fine and dandy, but it isn't useful or unique enough to justify an entire new computing niche. As they currently stand, tablets will never be anything but cool toys and curiosities. Even the concept sketches of the iTablet we've seen didn't really bring anything new to the table.
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The Courier is different. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is the first tablet I've seen with the potential to establish its own market. There are currently no single products that can do all of the things this video shows the Courier doing, as well as a device like the Courier will be able to do them. Writers, artists, graphic designers, marketers, college students...anyone who needs a notepad with some real power and design capabilities behind it is going to want this thing.