A series of images have shown up online that purport to explain how the mysterious Microsoft Courier interface works. They consist of some professional looking diagrams and illustrations of the Courier device from the previously leaked videos.
The docs indicate that the unit will have multitouch gestures for actions like opening apps, and zooming. There’s a pen as well. It has two buttons, an eraser, and a twist mechanism to access different functions. Courier’s “home screen” is called the Smart Agenda. It displays email, weather, to-do lists, and any active items in the journal. Almost any content the device can access can be “clipped”, and stored in the journal.
There are also numerous references to “the cloud” in these images. They say that any part of your journal can be shared with the cloud. People can instantly comment on these portions via a web browser. Speaking of browsers, the courier has one, and it actually looks nice. Pages are organized like a stack of note cards to flip through.
While this may be vaporware, it is very attractive vaporware. Let’s hope it actually exists.
Aside from adding more buttons and tweaking the ergonomics, there hasn't been a ton of innovation when it comes to the actual design of the computer mouse. That's part of what made Apple's announcement of its multitouch Magic Mouse so interesting, even if you couldn't see yourself using one. And judging by Microsoft's recent prototypes, multitouch rodents could become the next fad in PC peripherals.
"If the [traditional] mouse pointer is your virtual fingertip, we're giving you a virtual hand," says Dan Rosenfeld, a researcher with Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group in Redmond, WA.
Rosenfeld points out that multitouch surfaces exist for tabletops, computer monitors, and smartphones, but "there's really nothing addressing the kind of tasks that lots of people do all day long, sitting in front of a desk at a computer."
This is where Microsoft's prototypes come in. The funky designs look different than any computer mouse you've seen before, and that's the whole point - they are different. Microsoft's Articulated Mouse, for example, comes with finger rests for your thumb and index finger. Three optical sensors then track your movement in each of the two arms of the mouse and the main base.
But the question remains: Is there even a market for multitouch mice? Apple and Microsoft seem hellbent on finding out.
Almost as a side note, HP today announced its new Compaq L2105tm touchscreen monitor, dedicating just a few lines to promoting the display in a press release which covered several items.
The 21.5-inch, 1080p display sports a multitouch panel with one finger scrolling and two finger mousing capabilities.. But if you prefer to roll with a stylus, you'll find one jammed conveniently into the side of the monitor. You can even use a gloved finger, says DisplayBlog.com, who points out that the two cameras, infrared light, sensor, and reflective film create a rugged light field capable of detecting just about any type of object.
There was a little bit of marketing glitz on HP's part. According to the OEM, this is the world's first Windows 7 certified monitor, which you means you can plug it in groove to your newly acquired copy of the just-released OS.
Gateway has announced a new thin-and-light notebook lineup for the release of Windows 7 on the 22nd. The series is comprised of the EC58, EC54, and EC14. All will run Windows Home Premium, and will have multitouch trackpads. Gateway is also claiming that all the notebooks are capable of 8 hours of battery life.
The EC58 and EC54 are 15.6 inch laptops with high definition, LED-backlit screens. They run Pentium Dual Core SU4100 series CPUs, offering very low power consumption. They are, however, running an Intel integrated graphics solution. The units will have 4GB of DDR3 RAM loaded as well. The EC14 has a smaller 11.6 inch HD display, LED-backlit, and weighs in at a bit over 3 pounds. Otherwise, the specs are very similar. The EC58/54 will start at $649.99 and the EC14 will go for $549.99.
In a statement, Acer (who owns Gateway) Senior Manager of Product Marketing, Ray Sawall, said, “The new Gateway EC Series product lines were designed for the many PC users that have embraced the fun and productivity of being able to compute and stay in touch while away from their home or office.” We’ll have to wait and see if consumers agree, but at least this is yet another interesting product offering coinciding with the Windows 7 launch.
It's official - the touch revolution is in full force and you can expect to see several product announcements from companies jumping on the multitouch bandwagon. The latest is from Acer, who announced its sleek looking Aspire Z5610 all-in-one PC.
The touch-enabled Windows 7 PC sports a 24-inch high-def touchscreen with full multitouch support, and its backed by a spec sheet that's at least serviceable. The all-in-one's DNA consists of an Intel Pentium Dual Core E5300 processor, ATI Mobility Radeon HD4570 graphics, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive. So while you probably won't be playing Crysis, there's enough muscle to handle some casual gaming when you take a break from groping the display.
Look for the all-in-one to ship in time for the holidays at just $900.
Gizmodo managed to get its hands on the first product shots of Barnes and Noble's e-book reader, which will enter what's shaping up to be an increasingly crowded cage match with the likes of Amazon, Sony, Asus, MSI, and several others.
We're still a week away from Barnes and Noble's official unveiling, but according to Gizmodo, the e-reader will feature a black and white e-ink screen similar to the Kindle, but with a multitouch display like the popular iPhone. The top screen size checks in at 6 inches with an 800x600 pixel resolution, while the bottom touchscreen portion will boast 480x144 pixels.
Pricing is not yet known, but word on the Web is that Barnes and Noble plans to offer significant discounts on the books it publishes compared to the print editions.
Acer, the world's third largest PC maker, unveiled its Aspire 578PG notebook., the company's first laptop with a multitouch capacitive screen. Unlike competing models from HP or Lenovo, Acer didn't integrate touch optimized software of its own to run on top of Windows 7, but users will still be able to pinch, zoom, two-finger scroll, and perform other standard multitouch gestures.
Inside the 15.6-inch LED notebook sits an Intel Core 2 DuoT6600 processor (2.2GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 800MHz frontside bus), 4GB of DDR2-667MHz memory, a 320GB hard drive, ATI Radeon HD 4570 graphics with 512MB of dedicated DDR3 video RAM, an 8X DVD burner, webcam, HDMI port, four USB 2.0 ports, 6-cell battery, and Windows 7 Home Premium.
Acer says its new notebook will coincide with the launch of Windows and be available starting October 22 at "leading retailers" for $800.
Have you ever found yourself in a life or death situation where you simply couldn’t take your gloves off to operate a touch screen? Well probably not, but Ultra rugged-PC maker Getac who primarily supplies computer hardware to the police, military, and other field service organizations feels this is a market that is clearly under served, and is hoping to fill a niche with its new V100 convertible tablet PC. The V100 will be the first tablet PC on the market to sport a brand new resistive multitouch display, which unlike the capacitive screens found in the common iPhone, works even when you can’t operate the display with your bare fingers.
The inspiration behind the tablet is to bring multitouch computing to non-traditional markets, and take advantage of the increased compatibility that is being added in Windows 7. “Our customers work in some of the most extreme environments and weather conditions where touch screen technology and flick gestures are faster, safer and more convenient than using a keypad,” said Jim Rimay, president of Getac in a statement.
With regards to the internal specs on the V100 it will contain a full size keyboard, sunlight-readable 10.4 inch TFT LCD, and an ultra-low voltage 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. On the outside it features a magnesium-alloy case making it vibration, dust, moisture, and even drop resistant. Pricing for the V100 will start at around $3,499 with an extra $225 for the multitouch display. It is expected to go on sale at the end of November.
The future looks bright for touchscreen computing, which will get a boost from Windows 7's built-in support for multitouch technology. And in case you haven't noticed, touchscreen PCs are beginning to gain steam. But is the world ready for touch computing in its current form?
"The question is, can we rethink the touch interface as a first-class citizen and provide a fresh approach to the desktop?," says Anand Agarawala, founder and CEO of Toronto's Bumptop. "Not only is touch a more natural way to interact with your desktop, but it also adds to your productivity."
Up to now, there hasn't been much motivation to focus on touch. According to Display Search, only about 3 percent of desktops and notebooks currently come with a touchscreen. Touch technology is much more prominent in the smartphone market, so the first step is getting the hardware out there. Then there's the task of making touchscreens easier to use and functionally relevant.
"PCs with touchscreens look cool, but what do you do with them?," says Jennifer Colegrove, a director at Display Search. "When it comes to the iPhone there are 50,000 applications that use touch -- but what do you do on a PC with touch?"
That question might be answered sooner than you think.
BumpTop, the sexy 3D overlay for Windows-based operating systems, purports to make your PC's desktop act "like a real desk," but that's hard to do when you're still required to fumble around with a keyboard and mouse. Realizing this, the BumpTop developers have added multitouch support, including a handful of gestures the company claims to have patents for.
In addition to the typical gestures found on just about any multitouch device, BumpTop ups the ante with gestures that use all five fingers, both hands, and even the side of your hands. Gestures the company claims to have a leg up on the competition include "lasso," "shove," " scrunch," "fan out," and a few others.
You can download a version of BumpTop for free, but if you want multitouch support -- as well as the ability the toss files onto USB keys, thumbnail previews without watermarks, and other extras -- you'll have to shell out for BumpTop Pro, currently priced at $29.