REDMOND, Wash. ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft ( MSFT - Get Report), and soon, Apple ( AAPL - Get Report), will bring us futuristic tablets that are inspired by the era of pen and paper.

Staking its claim in the new tablet frontier, Microsoft unveiled via gadget site Gizmodo the Courier, presumably the first in a family of touchscreen devices.
Microsoft's Courier Tablet

The move gives Microsoft a jump on the long-awaited Apple tablet, or tablets, depending on which speculation you believe.

The Courier has two screens that fold together like a book and has an external 3-megapixel camera. The device uses the increasingly popular poke-and-swipe method of touch navigation that works with fingertips or a stylus.

While dazzling with possibilities of a sleek, portable touchscreen device, the tablet trend turns a troubling corner by shunning keyboards and threatening to take us back to a time when we wrote by hand.

Judging by the prototypes, thousands of people will be jazzed by this cool innovation, but millions of laptop typists are going to be left behind.

-- Written by Scott Moritz in New York.