Ready For Launch: 12 Hot Devices Running Windows 8
The Wait Is Over
After hunkering down in the R&D lab for more than three years, Microsoft is finally unveiling Windows 8 on October 26.
But the software giant's next-generation and highly anticipated operating system won't be the only new tech product stepping into the spotlight this month. Major OEMs ranging from Dell to HP to Microsoft itself have been readying new devices specifically optimized for Windows 8's tiled and touch-capable UI. Among them are tablets, Ultrabooks, and a slew of new convertible PCs blending the best of both mobile worlds.
Here are 12 Windows 8 devices that particularly stand out from the crowd.
Perhaps the most highly-anticipated Windows 8-based device set to launch in October is Microsoft's Surface, the software giant's first-ever homegrown tablet PC.
Two versions of Surface will be available upon the Windows 8 launch -- one running an x86-based processor and Windows 8 Pro, and one running and ARM-based processor and Windows RT. An optional Touch Cover that doubles as keyboard can be used with both models.
The Windows RT version of Surface is thinner and lighter, weighing it at 1.5 pounds and measuring 0.36-inches thick. The more heavy-duty Windows 8 Pro versions weighs 2 pounds and measures 0.53-inches thick, but also says more storage capacity. Both tablets have 10.6-inch HD displays.
Surface will sell between $499 and $699, depending on storage capacity and whether users opt for the Touch Cover keyboard.
Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
Lenovo's debut Windows 8 offering, the ThinkPad Tablet 2, has what it takes to become the de facto enterprise tablet. It's a 10.1-inch device running on an Intel Atom processor and weighing in at just under 1.3 pounds, making it lighter than both Microsoft's Surface tablet and Apple's new iPad. More notably, though, it touts a number of features that make it ideal for enterprise use, including a full-sized USB port to attach to other in-office devices like monitors or printers and an optional fingerprint scanner for extra security.
Users will have the option of separately purchasing a stylus and a detachable keyboard -- that's even equipped with Lenovo's signature red TrackPoint -- to use alongside the new ThinkPad's 1,366-by-768 display.
The new Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 starts at $649.
Acer Iconia W510 Tablet
The Iconia Tab W510 may share the same "Iconia" brand as the rest of Acer's flagship tablets, but don't let the name fool you -- it's definitely been made over for Windows 8. It sports a half-notebook, half-tablet design like most convertibles, but also has a third usage model called "presentation mode." Ideal for watching movies, browsing the web, or, as the name suggests, viewing PowerPoint presentations, this third form factor comes to life when users bend the top screen backward 295 degrees and prop it up on its detachable keyboard.
Acer's Iconia W510 can be used as a traditional 10.1-inch tablet by detaching the top screen from the keyboard and taking it on-the-go. The screen resolution is 1366-by-768.
The Iconia W510 tablet will sell for $499, and hits shelves Nov. 9.
Dell XPS Duo 12
Dell's XPS Duo 12 Ultrabook stands out from the slew of other convertible PCs invading the market. Rather than completely detach the top screen from the keyboard to launch into tablet mode like most convertible users have to do, users of the Dell XPS Duo 12 rotate the 12-inch screen -- which sits within a detachable bezel frame -- to make the transition. While it may make for a heavier tablet experience, the XPS Duo 12 could be a great hybrid for forgetful users, as eliminates any chance of leaving the keyboard behind.
Fully touch-enabled and optimized for Windows 8, the XPS Duo 12 has 97 percent more pixels than standard HD displays, according to Dell, which makes for a super-crisp view of the new Windows 8 "Metro" UI.
The XPS Duo 12 starts at $1,199 and is available for order now on Dell's web site.
HP Envy x2
HP is also readying a Windows 8 device for any users torn between a notebook and a tablet: the Envy x2.
Equipped with magnetic hinges that let its 11.6-inch display be used as either a clamshell or a tablet, the Envy x2 boats ultrawide viewing angles optimized for the Windows 8 touch-enabled interface. It weighs 3.1 pounds when being used as a notebook, with the tablet portion itself weighing in at 1.5 pounds.
While its keyboard and USB functionality make a good fit for enterprise users, the Envy x2 is also poised to attract the consumer side of the house, with an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, an optional stylus, and HP Connected Photo, a new app that lets users sync photos across various mobile devices.
Near-field-communication technology is also included natively. The HP x2 Envy will see for $849 and starts shipping Nov. 14.
Asus is contributing to the convertible craze this year with its new Windows 8-based Taichi. But unlike most hybrid PCs, which sport one screen that can be viewed in either tablet or notebook mode, the Taichi is unique in that it has two separate screens that function independently of one another. One screen is located on each side of the notebook's upper lid, allowing two different users to view two different apps at the same time for maximum productivity.
The dual-screen Taichi comes in either an 11.6-inch or 13.3-inch model with LED-backlit displays. Under the hood is an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor and 4GB of RAM. The new Taichi starts at $1,299 and is expected to be available at the end of October.
Samsung Series 7 All-In-One PCs
Given the onslaught of mobile devices set to launch alongside Microsoft's new OS this fall, it can be easy to forget that desktops are getting a Windows 8 refresh too. Well, Samsung is here to remind us with its new Series 7 All-In-One PCs.
Available in both 27- and 23-inch models, Samsung's new all-in-ones feature a high-resolution, ten-point touch display designed specifically for Windows 8. The Series 7 all-in-ones let users take the pinch to zoom and scrolling features they love about their tablets and apply them to a desktop. What's more, the Series 7 PCs can also recognize hand gestures, letting users navigate through e-books, adjust the volume, and perform other tasks with the wave of their hand.
Both models are powered by an Intel Ivy Bride processor and feature up to 8GB of RAM. Samsung said the Series 7 All-In-Ones will be available on October 26, starting at $1,099.
Sony VAIO Tap 20
The Sony VAIO Tap 20 is one of the few Windows 8 devices that doubles as an all-in-one desktop and a (really, really big) tablet. Users can choose between using the Vaio Tap's 20-inch display as a traditional desktop monitor or, by pushing in its built-in kickstand, in tablet mode, laying it down on a conference room table or even the living room floor.
Both modes let users take advantage of the Vaio Tap 20's 10-point multi-touch technology and its 1600-by-900 display. On the inside of Sony's half-desktop, half-tablet device is an Intel Core i5-3317 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 1 TB hard disk.
The Vaio Tap 20 is NFC-enabled, allowing it to share files and photos with other gadgets simply by tapping them together. But you might have to put some muscle into it; Sony's hefty 20-inch tablet weighs just over 11 pounds.
The Vaio Tap 20 will be available on Oct. 26, starting at $880.
Toshiba Satellite U925t Convertible Ultrabook
Toshiba's first-ever convertible Ultrabook, the Satellite U925t, lets users alternate between an ultra-thin notebook or tablet form factor, thanks to a set of sliding hinges that let the top screen detach from the keyboard.
Toshiba's Satellite U925t is optimized for the Windows 8 "Metro" UI, equipped with native multi-touch and gesture support. The U925t runs an Intel third-generation Ivy Bridge Core processor, and holds true to its thin and light promise, weighing in at just 3.2 pounds and measuring only 0.8-inches thick.
The device also includes a front HD webcam, a 3-megapixel rear camera, and support for near-field communication.
Pricing details haven't been released yet, but Toshiba plans to officially launch the new PC on October 26, alongside the launch of Windows 8.
HP ElitePad 900
Its TouchPad may have fizzled out completely in August 2011, but HP is trying its hand again in the tablet market, this time with its new ElitePad 900.
Running Windows 8 and Intel's latest "Clover Trail" Atom processors, the 10.1-inch ElitePad 900 is targeted at enterprise users. It boasts a number of security features for IT managers, such as HP's Client Security and Drive Encryption solutions, and its x86-based architectures lets it synch with HP's existing Client Management solutions, so IT teams can more easily track and secure the device.
What's more, the ElitePad 900 also comes with an optional "Productivity Jacket" that arms it with an integrated keyboard, connectivity ports, and an SD card reader for users craving a more traditional PC-like experience.
HP hasn't specified pricing yet, but said the new ElitePad 900 will be available in January.
Samsung ATIV Smart PC
Another notebook-tablet hybrid slatted to hit U.S. shelves this fall is Samsung's ATIV Smart PC, an 11.6-inch stand-alone slate that comes equipped with a detachable keyboard for a more traditional PC-like experience.
The new ATIV Smart PC touts 10-point multi-touch functionality that's optimized for Windows 8, but also includes native support for the S Pen, Samsung's homegrown stylus that rose to fame with its Galaxy Note tablet. The S Note app, which allows users to jot down notes or doodle on-the-go, is also included out of the box.
Under the hood of the ATIV Smart PC is an Intel "Clover Trail" Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, and a generous 13.5-hour battery life. Despite these specs, the new ATIV Smart PC still maintains a slim, 0.39-inch frame, and weighs in at 3.26 pounds in clamshell mode and 1.6 pounds as a tablet.
The ATIV Smart PC starts at $649, and is expected to launch on Oct. 26.