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Updated: Windows 8 tablets release date, specs and prices

| October 18, 2012 | 0 Comments


Updated: Windows 8 tablets release date, specs and prices

Windows 8 tablets: reviews and hands ons

Microsoft’s been pushing tablet computers for the best part of a decade, so you can imagine how happy the iPad’s success makes them.

But Microsoft doesn’t give up easily, and Windows 8 tablets will be with us on the Windows 8 release date which is 26 October. And before you dismiss Windows 8 tablets as a flash in the pan, we’ll be getting a huge variety of them, ranging from simple slates to fully convertibfle ultraportable laptops.

Microsoft has made the Release Preview of Windows 8 available publicly, so you can check it out for yourself as well as read our Windows 8 review.

Windows 8 is a crucial product for Microsoft financially, and it has also committed to larger touchscreen displays too – buying big-screen multitouch tech firm Perceptive Pixel.

Here are all the hands ons and reviews of Windows 8 tablets we’ve done so far, and click to page 2 for the lowdown on what Windows 8 tablets are all about:

Acer Iconia W510 review

Acer Iconia W700 review

Asus Vivo Tab review

Asus Vivo Tab RT review

Asus TaiChi review

Dell XPS 10 review

Dell XPS Duo 12 review

Dell Latitude 10 review

HP Envy X2 review

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 review

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 review

Microsoft Surface RT review

Samsung ATIV Tab review

Samsung ATIV Smart PC review

Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro review

Sony Vaio Duo 11 review

Sony Vaio Tap 20 review

Toshiba Satellite P845 review

Windows 8 tablets: what you need to know.

Windows 8 tablets will run on ARM, Intel and AMD chips

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As well as traditional x86-based AMD and Intel machines, Windows 8 can now run on ARM-based hardware – the same type of kit as the iPad or any Android tablet. Expect plenty of interesting kit to hit the streets after the launch of Windows 8.

  • Hands on: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga review

Windows 8 for ARM tablets will come out at the same time as Windows 8 for x86 PCs, if everything goes according to plan. As of mid-May we’re hearing that Intel Windows 8 tablets will arrive in November.

Most Windows 8 tablets will run a version of the OS called just plain Windows 8, while there will also be Windows 8 Pro. Both of those are for x86 Intel and AMD devices.

ARM devices will have Windows 8 pre-installed (you won’t be able to buy it separately). This version of the OS will be referred to as Windows RT – a name which many have slated.

If you’re confused about the difference, we’ve put together this guide: Windows 8 vs Windows RT: what’s the difference?

Read more about the Windows 8 versions here: Making sense of the Windows 8 versions

However, there will be a major difference between the x86 and ARM-based tablets. Windows RT won’t support traditional desktop apps (except for a bundled, cut-down version of Microsoft Office and other basic Windows apps). Everything else will be done through the Metro interface.

Lenovo, Dell and Samsung are all jumping in to produce PCs compatible with the operating system, joining Asus’Tablet 600 and Microsoft’s Surface. For the latest on what the products will be, read on.

While speculation circled for awhile about nearly all companies producing ARM-friendly tablets, Microsoft also let it be known that laptops, complete with keyboards and trackpads, are also part of the production package.

Microsoft kept a lid on the third-party Windows RT guest list, only allowing three major ARM chip makers – Nvidida, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm – to select two manufacturers a piece to build their first RT tablets.

Noticeably absent from the hardware manufactures is the No. 1 PC producer in the world, HP. The company said it’s avoiding ARM tablets in order to focus on an Intel tablet.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini hit out at Windows RT tablets, saying traditional x86 machines "have the advantage of the incumbency, the legacy support."

Windows 8 tablets

Intel said in April that Windows 8 tablets will pack a dual-core Atom Z2760 "Clover Trail" chip, which features a "burst-mode", providing an extra boost of power when required. Clover Trail also boasts hyperthreading technology, allowing it to act like a quad-core chip at certain times.

Intel also claims its Windows 8 tablets will deliver over nine hours of battery, 4G connectivity, NFC technology, weigh less than 680g (1.5 pounds) and sport a slender, sub-9mm body. However, tablets we’ve seen, such as the testbed Windows 8 Samsung tablet, have been running more powerful processors such as the Intel Core i5.

Tom’s Hardware reports that Intel and Microsoft are looking to reduce the iPad’s 70-per cent global market share down to below 50-per cent by the middle of 2013. However, the jury’s still out as to whether Windows 8 tablets can really make a dent. Analyst Gartner says that Windows 8 tablets will only take a 4 per cent market share this year though.

Some sources reckon that there will be 32 Windows 8 tablets by the end of 2012, while Intel has said it expects over 20 Windows 8 tablet designs based on its silicon.

Windows 8 tablets will have the new Metro interface

As we saw in our Hands on: Windows 8 review, Windows 8 tablets will have a marvellous new interface that looks rather like Windows Phone 7, called Metro.

  • 10 ways Windows 8 tablets can take on the iPad

"Fast, fluid and dynamic, the experience has been transformed while keeping the power, flexibility and connectivity of Windows intact," says Microsoft’s head of Windows Experience Julie Larson-Green.

Windows 8 tablets

"Although the new user interface is designed and optimised for touch, it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard. Our approach means no compromises – you get to use whatever kind of device you prefer, with peripherals you choose, to run the apps you love. This is sure to inspire a new generation of hardware and software development, improving the experience for PC users around the world."

In late October 2011, Microsoft was forced to talk about how Windows 8 tablets would deal with portrait orientations – all the demonstrations thus far have been of Windows 8 tablets in landscape.

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Windows 8 tablets desktop

In February Microsoft confirmed that new ARM versions of Windows 8 tablets would have the traditional desktop as well as the new Metro interface – but it will only allow third-party Metro apps.

On ARM, the Windows desktop, with familiar apps like Explorer, Internet Explorer and the Windows Live apps, plus Office – but everything else will be Metro.The inclusion of Office means pricing for manufacturers will be high – leading us to conclude that most Windows 8 tablets will be Intel-based.

WIndows 8 removes the now-familiar Aero Glass effect seen in Windows 7 and Windows Vista and replaces it with a much plainer appearance on the desktop.

Desktop

  • Windows 8 on ARM: Steven Sinofsky speaks

Windows 8 tablets don’t have Start orb

Microsoft is also facing somewhat of a backlash as Windows 8 loses the Start Orb, better known as the Start button – it’s replaced by the Start menu in the Metro interface.

Windows 8 start menu

Microsoft has had to defend the decisions it’s made with the Start Menu in Windows 8.

Windows 8 tablets manufacturers

The first one Windows 8 tablet wasn’t a commercial model – a Samsung Windows 8 tablet shown off at Microsoft’s Build conference and given out to developers on 13 September 2011.

Samsung will definitely be making a full Windows 8 tablet as well as prepping its own Windows RT tablet ready for a launch alongside Windows 8 itself. The new tablet will apparently feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor.

Microsoft is also joining the party with Microsoft Surface – a tablet of its own making that will come with a keyboard cover. The Microsoft Surface release date is the same day as the Windows 8 release date – 26 October.

Surface has already appeared on Amazon, while Microsoft has admitted the new hardware has upset some of its partners.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has set his sights high, but not too high, for the tablet. "We may sell a few million," he said during Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference.

He said overall sales of Windows PCs could hit 375 million in the next year, but that he’s unsure exactly how many of those will be Microsoft Surface tablet sales. But he said that the Surface "will have a distinct place in what’s a broad Windows ecosystem."

The main version of Surface runs Windows RT – however, you won’t be able to get it until Windows 8 ships – and we can’t get its big brother, the Intel Core i5 Surface for Windows 8 Pro, for another three months after that.

Microsoft Surface

HP also said it would be making Windows 8 tablets but they will be Intel-based for the moment – check out the leaked HP Slate 8 details here)

It has been widely reported that Dell is pinning its hopes on Windows 8. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, CEO Michael Dell said Windows 8 tablets "have a lot of potential." He spoke of the bonus opportunities as they will be compatible with existing systems and software.

"We’re very encouraged by the touch capability we are seeing in the beta versions of Windows 8," added Dell’s chief commercial officer Steve Felice in a Reuters interview on March 16.

"We have a roadmap for tablets that we haven’t announced yet. You’ll see some announcements.. for the back half of the year," he said. "We don’t think that this market is closed off in any way."

Speaking on Dell’s Q2 earnings call in August – during which it revealed a 22 per cent fall in consumer sales – CFO and senior VP Brian Gladden tried to allay investors’ concerns with the promise of new hardware.

"You’ll see new Windows 8 ultrabooks, all-in-one tablets and converged devices in the fourth quarter and headed into next year," he told them.

Details have leaked of a forthcoming Windows 8 tablet from Dell – the Dell Latitude 10. According to Neowin, it’s a 10.8 inch tablet with 1366×768 resolution, dual-core Intel Atom processor, fingerprint reader, 2GB RAM and 128GB SSD. Neowin also reports that a convertible tablet will follow. However, some suggest that the pretty-standard specs are disappointing.

On 9 May 2011, we reported on a rumour of a forthcoming Nokia Windows 8 tablet. The info comes from phone commentator Eldar Murtazin, who wrote on the Mobile Review forum that Nokia will launch a tablet in 2012, possibly pushed back to 2013. Nokia said at October 2011′s Nokia World that Windows 8 represents a "broader opportunity" for the company, (reported by TechCrunch).

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop later said that the company was looking at the tablet market and is considering just how to take on the might of the iPad.

"There’s a new tablet opportunity coming… Unquestionably, that will change the dynamics [of the tablet market]." It would appear the Nokia Windows 8 tablet could be slated for June 2012.

Digitimes claimed in March 2012 that a Windows 8 Nokia tablet wouldn’t be with us until the very end of 2012 at the earliest.

A leaked slide from Netbooknews.de indicates that Asus will begin selling Windows 8 tablets in Q3 2012. At the time of the launch of the Android-powered Google Nexus 7 in July it expanded further on this: "Asus will have several tablets ready at Windows 8 launch, however out of respect for Microsoft as a partner are unable to provide any more information at this time other than what was announced at Computex [in June]."

Acer originally told TechRadar that the forthcoming Windows 8 OS could bring Microsoft back to consumer tablet devices – so expect it to launch some Windows 8 devices.

"We think that Windows 8 tablets could well be a proposition for both consumers and professionals," said a spokesperson.

At Computex 2012, Acer duly unveiled two new Windows 8 tablets that will be with us this year.

First up is Acer’s Iconia W700, which features an 11.6-inch full HD touchscreen and Dolby Home Theater sound. The model also boasts a micro HDMI, Thunderbolt, and three USB 3.0 ports.

The Iconia W700 will also include a rather bulky cradle for both landscape and portrait viewing options in either a 70 degree presentation mode or a 20 degree angle best suited for touch use.

Acer’s second tablet is the smaller Iconia W510, sporting a 10.1 inch screen. It has a keyboard attachment – Acer says the slice can extend the tablet’s battery for up to 18 hours of use and can be flipped 295 degrees for a presentation mode to watch videos or show Powerpoint presentations to your pet cat.

Lenovo is also working with Intel on a ThinkPad Windows 8 tablet, which will come with a pen stylus and optional physical keyboard dock much like the Microsoft Surface’s Type Cover keyboard.

Weighing 1.3 pounds and measuring 9.8mm thin, the tablet will run Microsoft’s Windows 8 and an Intel Atom processor.

It looks like this tab will replace the ThinkPad Tablet. Lenovo will also be releasing the ThinkPad Yoga convertible and it looks increasingly likely this will come in both x86 and ARM versions.

The Tablet 2 also sports an Intel dual-core Clover Trail processor, a 10.1-inch WXGA touchscreen, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Windows 8

Windows 8 tablets pricing

Entry level slates could hit the shelves with price tags of under $300 – although not everybody believes that price point would make sense. Indeed, Windows 8 manufacturers seem to be suggesting that Windows 8 touchscreen devices won’t be cheap – Dell said in May that they would be priced higher – although he was mainly talking about laptops.

According to DigiTimes, Windows on ARM tablets will struggle to meet manufacturer’s target prices to compete against the iPad – in other words, they could be a good deal more expensive.

Windows 8 tablets will have a lot of support

During an earnings call in mid-August, Nvidia’s Jen-Hsun Huang also said: "I’m very bullish about Windows 8," adding: "I think it’s going to be an amazing operating system. Windows 8 tablets and Windows 8 clam shells that Tegra is going into, I hope will translate into real growth for our company in the second half of next year."

"We’re not leading the charge on Windows 8, but as we become comfortable that [Windows 8] is a viable ecosystem [and] that the quality of innovation and quality of services and quality of capabilities [are] being delivered there, we will certainly be open to that," he said in response to a question.

Nvidia has been involved with delivering sample Windows 8 tablets to developers.

Motorola has also said it is "completely open to Windows as a platform" according to Cnet.

Australian site Smarthouse.au claims some vendors will even move away from Android tablets in favour of Windows 8.

Windows 8 tablets will be thin and light

While Dell makes some unusually shaped tablets already, the Samsung tablet is "similar in size and shape to the Apple iPad, although it is not as thin." Unlike the iPad, "it also includes a unique and slick keyboard that slides out from below for easy typing."

Some Windows 8 tablets will be designed for business

"The company believes there is a huge market for business people who want to enjoy a slate for reading newspapers and magazines and then work on Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint while doing work," the NYT says, quoting the inevitable "person familiar with the company’s tablet plans".

Windows 8 tablets will have apps and an app store

Apps are a big part of Windows 8, with Microsoft convinced that "app development will move to the web" and it has built a Windows Store with manufacturer-specific entrances. Again, we saw a lot more detail on this in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

Windows 8 will come with a number of pre-installed Metro apps, which look set to include things like a camera, messaging, mail, calendar, SkyDrive, people, photos, video and music.

The apps will be in the Windows Phone Metro style and some, like messaging may incorporate mobile aspects like SMS support.

Dolby says its technologies will be integrated into Windows 8 tablets and PCs.

Windows 8 tablets

Windows 8 tablet specs

According to Microsoft, Windows 8 supports a 10.1-inch tablet display with 291 pixels per inch resolution. The new iPad has 265 ppi. That probably means HD resolution tablet displays will be a standard feature of Windows 8 tablets.

Intel has also blogged about new sensors that will be inside Ultrabooks as well as Windows 8 tablets.



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