If there's anything we love about trade shows like CES, it's when big surprises are dropped on us. And if The New York Times Bits blog is correct, well, we'll just let them tell it.

On Wednesday, Mr. (Steve) Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, will unveil a novel take on a slate-type computer during his evening keynote at the Consumer Electronics trade show in Las Vegas, according to people familiar with Microsoft’s plans. The slate will be made by Hewlett-Packard and possibly available by mid-year, these people said.

Might this be the fabled Courier tablet, which Ballmer just a few months ago said he'd never seen (all be winking with his answer)? Only one way to find out. We'll be there live.