When the real thing arrives, will it be as good as the YouTube versions?

Image: CourseSmart

If reality catches up with rumor, Steve Jobs will give one of the great demos of his life next Wednesday at Apple’s AAPL invitation-only “latest creation” event in San Francisco.

But you don’t have to wait until Jan. 27 to get a taste of what he might be showing.

For months, Apple has been secretly meeting with developers, advertisers and publishers about its forthcoming tablet computer. And although it’s likely that nobody outside of Cupertino has actually seen the thing, there are concept videos all over the Web.

We’ve collected three of the best below the fold:

  • A tablet magazine from Time Inc.’s TWX Sports Illustrated
  • A tablet textbook from CourseSmart —  a joint venture of several publishers, including McGraw Hill MHP , Wiley JWA and Pearson PSO
  • A tablet catalog, apparently from Ikea (privately held)

Bonus video: A demo of Microsoft’s MSFT Courier, the two-paneled concept tablet that created such a stir in tech press last September but was strangely absent from Steve Ballmer’s keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show two weeks ago.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]