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Courier: First Details of Microsoft’s Secret Tablet June 13, 2010

Posted by John Ruby in *New Products, Computers, Server, Slate.
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Courier: First Details of Microsoft’s Secret Tablet
Courier: First Details of Microsoft’s Secret Tablet

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Courier: First Details of Microsoft’s Secret Tablet

It feels like the whole world is holding its breath for the Apple tablet. But maybe we’ve all been dreaming about the wrong device. This is Courier, Microsoft’s astonishing take on the tablet.

–>

To watch the video, you’ll first need to install the flash player.

–> ‘ Courier is a real device, and we’ve heard that it’s in the "late prototype" stage of development. It’s not a tablet, it’s a booklet. The dual 7-inch (or so) screens are multitouch, and designed for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus, in addition to fingers. They’re connected by a hinge that holds a single iPhone-esque home button. Statuses, like wireless signal and battery life, are displayed along the rim of one of the screens. On the back cover is a camera, and it might charge through an inductive pad, like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for Pre.

Until recently, it was a skunkworks project deep inside Microsoft, only known to the few engineers and executives working on it—Microsoft’s brightest, like Entertainment & Devices tech chief and user-experience wizard J. Allard, who’s spearheading the project. Currently, Courier appears to be at a stage where Microsoft is developing the user experience and showing design concepts to outside agencies.

Microsoft has a history of collaborating with other firms, especially in the E&D division: Zune and Xbox have both gone through similar design processes. (And plans for the Microsoft Store leaked through a third-party agency were confirmed as genuine prototype layouts and concepts.) This video is branded Pioneer Studios, a Microsoft division within E&D that specializes in this kind of work, working with another agency that’s a long-time Microsoft collaborator on confidential projects.

The Courier user experience presented here is almost the exact opposite of what everyone expects the Apple tablet to be, a kung fu eagle claw to Apple’s tiger style. It’s complex: Two screens, a mashup of a pen-dominated interface with several types of multitouch finger gestures, and multiple graphically complex themes, modes and applications. (Our favorite UI bit? The hinge doubles as a "pocket" to hold items you want move from one page to another.) Microsoft’s tablet heritage is digital ink-oriented, and this interface, while unlike anything we’ve seen before, clearly draws from that, its work with the Surface touch computer and even the Zune HD.

Over the next couple days we’ll be diving much, much deeper into Courier, so stay tuned.

HP MediaSmart Server LX195 direct from HP January 5, 2010

Posted by John Ruby in Computers, Hardware, Home Media, Server.
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HP® Official Store — Buy the HP MediaSmart Server LX195 direct from HP
HP MediaSmart Server LX195

Help your family get control of your digital life with our affordable, easy-to-use MediaSmart Server LX195. It lets you automatically back up and protect digital photos, as well as centralize digital media and content so it’s easy to share. And you’ll enjoy your media whether you’re at home or away.

Automatic backup

  • Automatically manage daily backup, virus protection, media collection, and power management, all behind the scenes
  • Automatically back up multiple computers, whether running Windows (via Microsoft Windows Home Server Backup) or Mac (via Apple Time Machine)1
  • Store up to 168,000 photos, 147,000 songs or 405 hours of video2
  • Get additional protection by backing up your server to an on-line back-up service like Amazon S33

Designed for digital media

  • Access your media4 anywhere with an Internet-connected computer
  • Stream music and photos to any computer, while you’re at home or away
  • Stream to your stereos and TVs through a gaming console like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation35
  • Publish photos to photo-sharing and social networking Web sites—Snapfish, Flickr, Picasa, and even Facebook6—via any Internet-connected computer, or share directly from your server
  • Share music libraries for play throughout your home

Easy setup, scheduling, and support

  • Set up fast: just plug it in, connect it to your wireless router (sold separately), and load the software on your PCs and Macs1
  • Schedule the server to copy and centralize Windows PC media files and libraries (including iTunes and playlists)
  • Expand your capacity by adding external hard drives7 via four USB ports on the back
  • Warranty and support: one-year limited; get help toll-free, 24 x 7, or via e-mail in as little time as an hour