Microsoft launches Windows 8 on Oct. 26. A dramatic shift from past operating systems, Microsoft has said that the interface previously known as Metro, with its bold, modern look and feel and emphasis on side-scrolling, has been designed for the tablet and mobile computing market.
Naturally, Microsoft’s hardware partners are poised to take advantage of the new OS. Initially, the design consensus seemed to be on those that took advantage of the ultrabook form factor, thin and light, with a foldable screen that allowed it to be operated in a tablet mode as well as take advantage of the keyboard.
Of late, however, the pendulum seems to have swung to convertible tablets that can be detached, with the keyboard serving as both an I/O hub as well as an extension of the notebook battery to allow true all-day computing. (Note that this represents a distinct divergence in design from Microsoft, which has used its Touch Cover as its equivalent of the iPad’s Smart Cover (but without the keyboard). Microsoft sees its Surface tablet as just that, while the traditional notebook manufacturers are moving from their position of strength.
PCMag will have a review of the Surface at a later date, but for now we’ve focused on five devices that you’ll probably want to explore when evaluating your own Windows 8 purchasing decisions. Windows 8 obviously will run fine on most PCs, but the touch interface, widgets, and side-scrolling UI may encourage upgrades to new devices. (That’s the hope, anyway – Microsoft isn’t talking much about Windows 8, at least to Wall Street.)
With that said, which form factor do you prefer? Which design has caught your eye? Check out our slideshow over the next few pages, then tell us in the comments below which device has you reaching for your credit card.
HP Envy X2
Maybe the neatest thing about this product is that HP has cleverly used magnets to make docking the slate into its base that much easier. HP has also fixed it so the keyboard section’s battery drains first, which means the Envy x2 tablet will stay fully powered up more of the time.
Asus Vivo Tab
Despite the enviable amount of screen real estate, the Vivo Tab is one of the slimmest (8.7 mm) of the upcoming Windows 8 slates we’ve seen. With its Android-based Transformer series of products, Asus pioneered the hybrid form factor that looks poised to take off over the next several quarters, so it certainly has more experience than most in building such devices.
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
The IdeaPad Yoga 13 is a convertible Windows 8 ultrabook that uses a “multi-mode” hinge to open up into a laptop, and then open further, with the screen moving 360 degrees to become a tablet-style device. The 13.6-inch screen offers 10 points of touch tracking on a 1,600-by-900 resolution IPS display.
The $1,099 Yoga 13′s 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) and an estimated seven-hour battery are par for the course among ultrabooks, but the Yoga brings plenty of new features as well, like an Intel Ivy Bridge processor and a whopping 8GB of RAM.
Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
Another convertible tablet/laptop hybrid, the ThinkPad Tablet 2 will be outfitted with an Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, a 64GB solid-state drive (SSD) and a 10.1-inch display with 1,366-by-768 resolution and touch support for fingers and stylus. Front- and rear-facing cameras can be used for Skype and taking photos, and integrated storage means you’ll never have to remember where you set your stylus. It won’t be available until November, however. It will be priced at $649 and up.