With leaks and rumors flying about Apple’s long-rumored tablet and Microsoft’s Courier tablet book, said Brier Dudley in The Seattle Times, it’s hard to know if Apple and Microsoft are “playing PR games—or trying to psych each other out.” The latest “tantalizing” whispers have a Windows 7–based Courier hitting shelves in mid-2010 and a 10.7-inch iPhone-like Apple “media tablet” taking on the Kindle in early 2010. “If the rumors are to be believed.”

The “tablet rumorage” is getting pretty specific, said Britain’s The Daily Mirror. The Apple tablet will reportedly be unveiled Jan. 19, 2010, and available in stores in May or June—that is, “if Steve Jobs gives it the green light.” It will work like a large iPhone with “a lot more touch-sensitive smarts,” function as an e-reader, and play HD video. If all that is true, will it “beat the glossy loveliness of the Microsoft Courier?”

As someone who’s “waxed poetic about Apple’s mythical Tablet,” said Barbara Dybwad in Mashable, I think Microsoft’s “rather attractive” Courier could give it a run for its money (watch leaked Courier video). The Courier is a hinged double-screen tablet/organizer whose “overarching metaphor” is the “infinite journal”—clip, photograph, and draw to your heart’s delight, then store and manipulate your content though a “very fluid” touchscreen/pen interface.

There are already tablets with some similar features on the market, said Erica Ogg in CNET News. The problem Microsoft and Apple face is that there’s “never been a tablet that’s been commercially successful.” One of them will win the race to market, but the real “first” will be which company can make their tablet pay off.