Microsoft's folding tablet spotted

Microsoft is attempting to rain on Apple's iPad parade by 'leaking' images and videos of its own tablet gadget just weeks before the launch of Steve Jobs' potentially game-changing device.

Tech site Engadget has 'obtained' a number of images and videos of the dual-screen folding gadget which are quite obviously very nice 3D renders and animations rather than real world hardware.

The Courier, which is being pegged as a digital journal, weighs less than a pound, is less than an inch thick and, when folded is about the size of a 5x7-inch photo, according to the report.

Engadget also reports that the device will be powered by Tegra 2 graphics and will run the same operating sysytem as the Zune HD.

The GUI relies heavily on pen-based input but can also recognise multi-touch finger gestures if the CGI video is to be believed.

Rumour has it that the actual real honest-to-goodness, hold-it-in-you-hands hardware will spring into existence in the second half of 2010 but we'd be willing to wager that Microsoft will wait and see if the iPad will turn out to be the next big thing, or crash and burn at the first hurdle, before going further than the digital drawing concept stage.

Pretty much like every other me-too manufacturer touting a mythical tablet device, then.

Having said that, the concept is intriguing, even if that hinge looks like it could be the device's unique selling point, and its Achilles' heel.