The gadget rumour mill is currently in overdrive, with reports saturating the web about a new tablet/e-book device from Microsoft known as Courier, which could give the iPad a run for its money.
New screenshots and concept videos of the device appeared on the Engadget site on Friday, which a cynic might say was nicely timed to coincide with the Apple's official iPad release date announcement.
Either way, Courier seems to differ in several striking ways from Apple's much-hyped product, not least because it appears to be a two-screened affair which opens and closes like a book rather than the monoblock iPad.
If Engadget is to be believed, the emphasis is on portability, with each screen not much bigger than a 5x7 photo and the whole thing weighing around 500g. As if to reinforce this, the whole thing will reportedly run not on Windows 7 but Windows CE 6, with a Tegra 2 web processor.
According to the two videos posted on the site, the Courier will be pushed not as a means to check emails and consume media as the iPad seems to have been, but more as an e-journal - something workers can use to create, save and share ideas on.
It will allow users to drag and drop elements with their fingers via a touchscreen, but the interface appears to be primarily pen-based, with the device recognising handwriting.
The concept videos posted by Engadget illustrate users working on various projects, using the Courier as a kind of digital journal to store, annotate and share content found on the web.
A Q3/Q4 launch date is being mooted, so should Apple be worried? Well, although the Courier looks mightily impressive it won't be for everyone. Aside from die-hard Apple-ites, the iPad is likely to attract those who are looking for a slick, cool looking device which they can use to surf the web, watch online videos, view photos and listen to music with.
The Courier, on the other hand, looks like it will straddle the work/play divide much more effectively, and with the addition of a camera and likely Flash support, it may yet cause a few nervous meetings in Cupertino.
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