Monday, June 10, 2013

Updated: Best Windows 8 tablets: all the Windows 8 tablets we've reviewed

Updated: Best Windows 8 tablets: all the Windows 8 tablets we've reviewed

Updated: Best Windows 8 tablets: all the Windows 8 tablets we've reviewed

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 success of the iPad 4, Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, Google Nexus 7, Sony Xperia Tablet Z and other great tablets makes them.

But Microsoft doesn't give up easily , and Windows 8 tablets are with us, both in the form of full-blown Windows 8 Intel-powered devices such as Sony's Tap 20 and Windows RT ARM-based tablets such as Microsoft's own Surface RT.

Before you dismiss Windows 8 tablets as a flash in the pan, Windows 8 tablets aren't one kind of device.

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We're seeing a huge variety of devices, ranging from simple slates to fully convertible laptop-tablet hybrids, including those where keyboards slide out from beneath the screen, as well as those with styluses and detachable keyboards. We've even seen tablet/all-in-one hybrids.

There's as much variety in the Windows 8 tablet range as there is in the entire catalog of tablets available running all the other operating systems.

So it really is up to you to decide what sort of Windows 8-powered tablet you want. Do you want to use it mainly for reading, playing games, typing out documents on your commute or sketching ideas for a new artwork?

To help you decide, here's a rundown of the Windows 8 tablets that we've reviewed so far.

Acer Iconia Tab W500 - £300/US$ 300 (around AU$ 490)

Best Windows 8 tablets

One of the original laptop-tablet hybrid gang members, the Acer Iconia Tab W500's optional keyboard dock brings the bulky functionality, while Windows 7 Home Premium brings the power. Though not strictly speaking a Windows 8 tablet, it is available refurbished or new for some very low prices. However, you get what you pay for, with Windows 7 showing that it wasn't made for tablets.

Read our full Acer Iconia W500 review

Dell XPS 10 - £315/US$ 340 (around AU$ 520)

Best Windows 8 tablets

Windows RT runs this laptop-tablet hybrid with detachable keyboard that looks like its full laptop XPS siblings. Coming with a full copy of Microsoft Office 2013 already installed, the Dell XPS 10 can only run apps from the Windows Store, while a microSD card slot and two USB 3.0 ports expand its storage capabilities. The 1366 x 768 resolution on the 10.1-inch screen is fine for documents but is dull compared to others we've seen, which detracts from media consumption. However, the keyboard is cramped, so it's not great for long periods of typing either. The battery life, when attached to the keyboard dock, is brilliant, but this does make it very heavy compared to other tablets.

Read our full Dell XPS 10 review

Asus VivoTab Smart ME400 - £350/US$ 450/AU$ 600

Best Windows 8    tablets

Boasting an Intel processor and full Windows 8, the Asus VivoTab Smart can run new Windows Store apps and older desktop software from your old laptop, and comes with Microsoft Office pre-installed. Its power efficiency and capability are extremely impressive, as are its connections, which include NFC compatibility for wireless payments and Bluetooth 4.0 support for connecting peripherals. With a monitor and keyboard attached, you could mistake the VivoTab ME400 for a full PC. An 8MP rear camera with flash and Full HD video shooting is better than average, and there's a 2MP front-facing camera for video.

Read our full Asus VivoTab Smart ME400C review

Dell Latitude 10 - £375/US$ 500/AU$ 600

Best Windows 8 tablets

Business-focused, the Dell Latitude 10 runs Windows 8 and features fingerprint scanners and smart card readers, offering something a little different. The docking station that comes with the tablet also boasts four USB ports and other connections for linking the device to an external monitor and keyboard, in order to use it as a full work machine. It also comes with the ability to swap the battery for a spare, which is again an unusual feature in tablet world. The tablet also works with a stylus, if you buy one separately, and comes with an 8MP rear camera with flash and autofocus, and a 2MP front-facing video call camera.

Read our full Dell Latitude 10 review

Asus Vivo Tab RT - £400/US$ 415/AU$ 490

Best Windows 8 tablets

Microsoft Office 2013 apps are welcome additions on this Windows RT-toting tablet with a 10.6-inch screen that lacks a Full HD resolution but benefits from sleek Corning Fit Glass. The big screen works well as a monitor to accompany the keyboard dock, though of course it's effective on its own too, responding quickly to gestures and flicking through apps rapidly. There's an 8MP rear camera with autofocus and a flash if you fancy taking photos or Full HD videos, plus a 2MP front shooter for video calls. The high quality design and 32GB flash storage are excellent additions in a tablet that's been around for a while, and can be found substantially discounted if you shop around.

Read our full Asus Vivo Tab RT review

Microsoft Surface RT - £400/US$ 500/AU$ 560

Best Windows 8 tablets

The most famous of all the Windows RT tablet-laptop hybrids, Microsoft's Surface RT is distinctively colourful and clicky, as we've all seen in the TV ads. It's also square and sturdy, and has a fresh VaporMg coating and a 10.6-inch widescreen that works well when you want to snap apps side by side in Windows. The clip-on Touch Cover feels very light, and typing on its flat surface takes some getting used to, or the more expensive Type Cover feels more like a normal laptop keyboard, if that's what you'd prefer. Its kickstand supports the screen at a handy angle in laptop mode, though the processor struggles with demanding graphics more than a laptop's would. The screen is bright and clear but relatively low res, but ultimately, a lot of the Surface RT's success depends on how many desirable apps are added to the Windows Store, since you can't download and run apps from elsewhere.

Read our full Microsoft Surface RT review

Samsung Ativ Tab - £430/US$ 650 (around AU$ 705)

Best Windows 8 tablets

One of the first Windows RT tablets to be released, the 10.1-inch Samsun g Ativ Tab has an average resolution and a strong 1.5GHz processor and 2GB of RAM to run the show. Brushed aluminium lends it a high quality feel, while there are ports for USBs, a microSD card slot to boost the 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, and a connector pin for the optional keyboard. Windows RT runs well on the touchscreen, although it lacks the number of apps that you can run on Android and iOS tablets. A 5MP rear camera can shoot 720p video, and there's a 1.9MP front-facing camera too.

Read our full Samsung Ativ Tab review

Acer Iconia W700 - £550/US$ 750 (around AU$ 900)

Best Windows 8 tablets

Trying to perfect the balance of portable tablet and full Windows 8-powered laptop, the Acer Iconia W700 boasts a separate dock and keyboard, with excellent connectivity options including an HDMI port for you to hook it up to an external monitor and use as a home PC. The tablet itself boasts a stunningly sharp screen and solid aluminium build, but the plastic dock is too cumbersome and fragile to stuff into a bag every day, making the tablet best for typing at home and lighter, keyboard-free work when out and about.

Read our full Acer Iconia W700 review

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 - £570/US$ 640/AU$ 750

Best Windows 8 tablets

Another convertible tablet-la ptop hybrid, the 10.1-inch Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 runs full Windows 8 and looks like a full laptop when docked, although its Intel Atom processor is weaker than a laptop's. Its Wacom stylus is tucked away until needed, and the keyboard is solid, but it features the divisive trackpoint nub instead of a trackpad, which could put people off. The tablet joins to the keyboard dock by resting in a slot rather than locking in place, which means it can detach quite easily if you're not careful and the two can't be clipped together in a clamshell style for transportation, making them a little vulnerable.

Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 review

HP Envy x2 - £630/US$ 700/AU$ 850

The keyboard dock of the HP Envy x2 offers a great selection of connections - including an HDMI port for hooking it up to a monitor - and a second battery, though the tablet on its own doesn't have so much as a single USB port of its own. The 11.6-inch device runs full Windows 8, with a Windows Start button on the bottom when it's held in landscape orientation that wakes the whole thing up. As well as a front-facing webcam, the tablet-laptop hybrid features an 8MP rear camera with a flash and Beats Audio for your music, though the speakers are weak.

Read our full HP Envy X2 review

Samsung Ativ Smart PC - £650/US$ 750/AU$ 800

Best Windows 8 tablets

The 11.6-inch Samsung Ativ Smart PC is another tablet-laptop hybrid that runs full Windows 8 and has a clamshell design when locked onto the keyboard dock. It also comes with a Samsung S-Pen that works precisely with the digitised touchscreen. The 64GB of inbuilt storage can be expanded via the microSD card port, while there are also connections for USB, micro HDMI and Bluetooth 4.0, among others. But because it has a relatively lightweight Intel Atom processor with inbuilt graphics, making the tablet's battery life longer than most, performance can suffer from extremely frustrating lag and app crashes that make it a chore to use at times.

Read our full Samsung Ativ Smart PC review

Microsoft Surface Pro - £720/US$ 900/AU$ 1,000

Best Windows 8 tablets

Microsoft's own full Windows 8 tablet-laptop hybrid, the Surface Pro, has the same look and the same VaporMg coat as the Surface RT, but has a tweaked kickstand and magnetic connectors for power and the two tear-off keyboards. It also has a higher resolution 10.6-inch touchscreen with excellent blacks, a smooth, pressure-sensitive stylus and an Intel Core i5 processor. It can run any application you throw at it, and has USB and DisplayPort connections, but it's heavier than other tablets and has a shorter battery life than the Surface RT.

Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro review

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga - £950/US$ 1,000 (around AU$ 1,560)

Best Windows 8 tablets

As the name suggests, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga is extremely flexible. Its special double hinge means its keyboard can flip 360 degrees, so you can use it in typical laptop position, tablet position, tent position or a stand position. The keyboard turns off when it's folded into a position where it won't be needed, so that you can just use the 13-inch screen as a large tablet without worrying about accidental key presses. The Windows 8-toting device also recognises and can be controlled by hand g estures via the 1MP webcam.

Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 review

Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro - £950/US$ 1,100 (around AU$ 1,560)

Best Windows 8 tablets

Outclassing its smaller brother, the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro runs full Windows 8 with a much beefier Intel Core i5 processor and a hinged keyboard dock that turns it into a device that's almost an Ultrabook. A pen with a clickable right mouse button works well with the 11.6-inch touchscreen, which itself is crisp and colourful. The keyboard is substantial and its hinged lock feels sturdy and more flexible than the Surface's kickstand, but the trackpad struggles with gestures.

Read our full Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro review

Sony Vaio Duo 11 - £950/US$ 1,200/AU$ 1,300

Best Windows 8 tablets

Lifting and sliding the Full HD screen back reveals a keyboard on the 11.6-inch Sony Vaio Duo 11, which is all held together by a weighty hinge, m aking the tablet and its keyboard inseparable. The full Windows 8 tablet-laptop also boasts an Intel Core i5 processor and a stylus, offering more for creatives and business people. Swipes through the interface are quick and easy, and the tablet can run full intensity Windows apps such as Photoshop. The keyboard lacks a trackpad though, offering just a nub, so you'll rely on the touchscreen or a USB mouse here. An SD card slot can expand the 128GB SSD storage space, plus there are USB 3.0, Ethernet, HDMI and VGA ports, but the whole package does add up to a heavy one that's always heavy, since you can't disconnect the keyboard.

Read our full Sony Vaio Duo 11 review

Sony Vaio Tap 20 - £1,000/US$ 1,000/AU$ 1,500

Best Windows 8 tablets

Giants will be pleased with this 20-inch tablet/all-in-one PC with full Windows 8, but the rest of us will struggle to swing the Sony Vaio Tap 20 around with much abandon, so will need to rely on the kickstand to prop it up on a desk if we don't fancy using it flat on a tabletop or squashing our laps. Its powerful Intel Core i5 processor and huge touchscreen need a big battery, which makes the device heavy, so it's better off on a desk, paired with the bundled Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. These peripherals will come in handy because we found the screen so low res that using touchscreen gestures on it was difficult. The 1MP webcam is also low res, and it doesn't have a rear camera, which is fair enough.

Rea d our full Sony Vaio Tap 20 review

Dell XPS 12 - £1,200/US$ 1,300/AU$ 1,600

Best Windows 8 tablets

Taking a leaf out of the Dell Inspiron Duo's design book, the Dell XPS 12 is a tablet-laptop hybrid with a swivelling screen that folds back on itself so you can use it like a tablet. Running Windows 8, the 12.5-inch device has a touchscreen and a spacious keyboard and trackpad, so you can choose whether to use on-screen gestures or th e trackpad in laptop mode. As a laptop it's powerful, with a fast processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD drive, but as a tablet it's heavy, although it does have a Full HD screen. The tablet functionality is best treated as an added bonus rather than its main purpose.

Read our full Dell XPS Duo 12 review

Asus Taichi - £1,430/US$ 1,480/AU$ 1,500

Best Windows 8 tablets

Uniquely, the Asus Taichi doesn't just have one screen, but two - one on the front and one on the lid. More a laptop than a tablet, the device runs full Windows 8 on both screens, with the lid screen taking over from the main screen when the device is closed or you manually switch between them with a keyboard button. You can also choose to r un both screens at once, to do two separate tasks, though this slows the system down. The secondary screen's coating gives extra depth to colours, showing that it's designed for more tablet-like uses such as watching TV shows, while the front laptop screen counters reflections well so you can concentrate on work documents.

Read our full Asus Taichi review

Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC - £1,500/US$ 1,700 (around AU$ 2,460)

Best Windows 8 tablets

The enormous 27-inch Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC is certainly not your usual tablet. We can see that at first glance. Coming with board games, electronic dice and a custom touch interface, Lenovo is keen to push the tabletop aspect of this device, as much as its ability to convert into a touchscreen all-in-one PC when propped up on its kickstand and hooked up to its Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. A dual-core i7 mobile processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard drive and 8GB SSD are of course more than most Windows 8 tablets would boast. We're just not sure how much we need a tabletop tablet PC.

Read our full Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC review

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix - £1,800/US$ 2,000 (around AU$ 2,955)

Best Windows 8 tablets

Flexib ility is the big selling point of the Lenovo Thinkpad Helix, which works as a standalone 11.6-inch tablet when removed from its keyboard dock or when unclipped, turned around, clipped back into the dock and folded back over the keys. It also works as a small laptop when clipped in a normal laptop position or in 'presentation mode', where the screen faces your audience with the keyboard around the back. It also comes with a pressure-sensitive Wacom stylus that's designed for artists, and boasts 3G, 4G and NFC support.

Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

Panasonic ToughPad FZ-G1 - £2,060/US$ 2,140 (around AU$ 3,380)

Best Windows 8 tablets

Rugged and splash-proof, the 10.1-inch rubber-coated Panasonic ToughP ad FZ-G1 isn't the best looking tablet around, but it does run full Windows 8 Pro. It comes with a stylus that can be used as a right mouse or customised for your own controls, and the tablet can reportedly survive drops of 4m (13ft). An Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB RAM help Windows 8 to boot up in six seconds, and gesturing through the interface works well. The battery is removable and lasts for around eight hours, and you can choose to upgrade that, the storage or the processor, or even add a rear camera to accompany the 1.3MP webcam around the front.

Read our full Panasonic ToughPad FZ-G1 review


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