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.