Was the Courier Project really killed off or did it transform into the Surface, OneNote and Windows 8?

Six years ago before the Apple iPad there was rumor of a 7 inch dual screen tablet from Microsoft, the Courier project, two years later in 2010 that project was killed, but was it really killed?

It was rumored to be a device that supported multitouch gestures as well as a stylus and came with special applications for note taking and tight integration with the cloud. Does any of this sound familiar?

It is very interesting to see how the idea and mockups of the Courier transformed into the Surface Pro and the tablet computing flood that followed the accusations of vaporware. While the iPad made it to production and the Courier did not, the Surface Pro 3 lives up to Microsoft promise of the Courier in ways that the iPad has yet to do.

Four years ago I wrote a blog post expressing my disappointment when I heard that the Courier Project was killed, today I manage a fleet of Surface Pro 3 devices that run AutoCad, Revit and provide the note taking and entertainment features todays users have come to expect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=En9NaKqtwlE

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Surface Pro 3 – They finally got it right

I just finished a report in Word and added charts from Excel (with a mouse attached, what a concept), connected to the office via VPN, placed the file on a network share, downloaded a PDF file, annotated that file using the pen and then attached it to an email while talking to my sister on Skype in split screen and sitting pool side. Priceless!

Microsoft is listening and reacting to user feedback (refreshing), the kick stand that reclines all the way back, the bigger screen, thinner, lighter and keyboard they tilts up and can still be used as a cover, man this is fantastic!

For the people who negatively reviewed this device but didn’t really provide any reason, I say nice try iCrap fans, you can’t even come up with one good reason that the iPad is better and don’t even start with the millions of apps crap, there are decades worth of quality applications that one can install on this “real computer” and all the peripherals that I have already invested in work (USB keys, printers, monitors, etc.).

 

Most tablets on the market are just companion devices that people carry along with or instead of their main computer and then struggle to get the content off and onto their main computer, this is a main computer replacement with the size and the cost of most companion devices. You can take it with you, take pictures or video while out and about, come home and connect your monitor and other peripherals and keep working.

This is more than just a happy customer raving, this is someone who is thankful to be free of the restrictive iCan’t and Android world in which you had to find workarounds for everything that you used to be able to do if you wanted a tablet.

Bravo Microsoft, well done!

 

 

The E-Reader war is heating up

The latest salvo is from Barnes and Noble, they just launched a cheaper version of the Nook tablet to compete with the price of the Kindle fire ($199), they were able to shave $50 of the price by bringing the internal memory down from 16gb to 8gb. The previous model (Nook Color) is now $169 and the Nook simple touch is now $99.

The next round will be from Apple, as they prepare to announce the iPad3 to beat off the encroachment of the Android 4.0 tablets which have been slowly gaining ground and to position themselves for a defense against Windows 8 tablets which everyone expects to be welcomed into the business world more so than Apple products have been.

 

Don’t forget to visit FairyGodauthor.com for a chance at winning a Nook simple touch reader.

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Size does matter – Choosing between the iPad, Galaxy Tab, Nook and Kindle Fire

Nook Tablet

iPad2

Fire

Galaxy Tab 10.1

8.1 x 5 x .48

$250

9.5 x 7.31 x .34

$500

7.5 x 4.7 x .45

$200

9.09 x 6.21 x .33

$450

We could go back and forth on the merits and flaws of each operating system (iOS vs. Android), but today I am only focusing on utilization.

As iOS and Android continue to one up each other, choosing the right device for you has become increasingly difficult. The differences between Apple’s iOS 5 vs. Google’s Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) are so few now and the availability of quality apps now leveling out, the decision now comes down to how one intends to use the device.

I’ve had the opportunity to live with both Apple’s iOS 5 vs. Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on tablets for a couple months now and honestly its hard to choose one over the other, the size and shape of the device really does determine how much you use it.

Is bigger better?
Well, it depends. If your primary use of the device is reading, then the answer is no. I have yet to complete a book using the bigger devices. They are just plain uncomfortable to use for prolonged reading. You can whip out the smaller device from your jacket pocket and read with one hand while riding in a New York subway train (on average I see 12 people a day doing so). That’s not so easy to do with a 9×7 device.

Is less really more?
Here too it depends. If your primary use of the device is web browsing and working on documents, then no. Viewing websites and navigating on the smaller screen is painful. You will also find that the bigger devices have faster processors and additional features such as camera, GPS, HDMI ports etc.

Features and use for the smaller devices
At $200 the Kindle fire seems to be a bargain, but it really isn’t. There are some serious design flaws. The device itself is very slippery and the location of the sleep button is just plain dumb. I found myself constantly hitting the button. With no SD card slot, you can’t add more memory to the 8GB that it comes with. The Nook Tablet on the other hand has grips all around the device, come with 16GB of memory and has an SD card slot that can take up to a 32GB card. These features alone make the extra $50 in price worth it.

The Nook Tablet offers a better experience in this size category. The screen is more responsive the browser is faster and the battery life almost 3 hours longer than the Fire. Since these devices are both based in Google’s Android OS, there really aren’t any OS level options to compare.

Obviously my choice here is the Nook Tablet but as stated before, don’t expect too much productivity out of these devices, they are after all sold as e-readers that have a few more features.

Features and use for the bigger devices
If you are like me and move from computer to computer, you will find the limitations imposed by Apple on device synchronization to one machine very restrictive as well as similar restrictions on native application options. In the Android world you aren’t restricted, you can simply plug in your USB cable to any machine and copy data on or off in a few seconds without having to launch an iTunes like interface and you have a number of alternative apps that can be downloaded to replace the native (built in) applications.

The Galaxy tab is the real winner for me. Better hardware (camera, battery), while both of these devices lack an SD card slot, the Galaxy tab does have an SD card adapter available for purchase.

The bottom line
How you intend to use the device should guide your choice. If you just choose based on popularity you might just have an expensive ornament on your coffee table.

Just can’t say that I love either of you, but I like one better! – G1 vs iPhone part 2

Ok so I’ve been using both the T-Mobile G1 Google phone and the AT&T Apple iPhone now for a few months and here’s the verdict.

IPhone, it’s got the cool factor but that’s it. Just like their computers, they do the flashy stuff well, but when it comes down to actual work, they leave you hanging. If you need to look up a number fast, search for an email, edit a document, or simply copy a file to the device to read on the road, forget it. This device just can’t or does so poorly. This is no blackberry killer.

Google Android Phone (AKA the T-Mobile G1), all function and not enough style. It’s like the MAC vs. PC ads all over again. The G1 does everything well, but is less visually appealing. It’s obvious that Google designed the OS, almost everything points to their online service (which is a good thing) so you are never without your data if you forget your phone at home. (I wish someone would design an app that logs your calls on Google as well, this way I can see the calls I missed). The one weak link in the G1 is Video, I wish there was a better way to purchase and place video on the device, the Amazon store is clunky (it works however).

The bottom line: Having a keyboard and copy and paste functionality is key to why the G1 is a better device, this is simply more efficient, Apple has taken us back to the stone ages with their implementation (kind of reminds me of the mouse with only one button, it took them a decade to get up to speed), you are back to one finger typing on the iPhone. The other pluses are things like the SD card slot, smaller width (making it feel like a phone, when you multitask like I do this is important, I have broken an iPhone already because it fell out of my hand, its shaped like a brick), better in-call sound quality, better desktop icon management (you can choose which icons you want on the desktop without having to remove the entire application), apps that can run in the background or resume when you have switched away from them, with the iPhone you have to start all over.

I carry both devices, one for entertainment and the other for functionality, I’m sure by now you know which is which. If I had to choose which one to keep, the G1 would be the winner, it’s not flashy, but it does the job well.

P.S. they both suck at battery life, this is one area where the blackberry is still king.

P.S.S. I also have the black berry bold, but there really isn’t much improvement over the Curve (only faster, better graphics and a SD card slot – come on Apple, get with the program) so there was no point in comparing it to these guys. When blackberry has a better application store (market) that has cool free apps like the G1 market or Apple Apps store, then maybe we’ll see a real fight, for now, the Blackberry still remains king of business use, but in my book the G1 is the only competitor that can do both business and pleasure well.