October is here, and while that may indicate changing leaves outside to most, for me it’s all about new Windows 8 convertible laptops. The new operating system officially drops on Oct. 26, but a swath of systems using it have already been announced, and you can pre-order some of them right now.
With a new touch interface made up of colorful tiles, Windows 8 really needs a touchscreen to be appreciated fully. And if you’re going with a touchscreen, you want a tablet form factor. But what about those times you need to get some serious typing done? Well, vendors have come up with a couple different solutions to make laptops transform into tablets and back again.
Dell: For a paltry $1,199.99, you can pre-order the XPS 12 Ultrabook, which is essentially a small laptop with a swingin’ difference: the screen flips 180 degrees within its bezel, so when you close the lid your laptop has a screen facing the outside. The screen is 12.5 inches on the diagonal, and the whole package weighs in at 3.35 pounds, so while it might be small for a laptop, it makes a hefty tablet.
What do you get with all that weight? A full-fledged mobile PC: an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB memory, and a 128GB solid state drive. If that’s still not enough power for you, there are models all the way up to $1,699.99, at which point you get a Core i7 processor, 8GB memory and a 256GB drive. All models come with full 64-bit Windows 8.
HP: The ENVY x2 is HP’s answer to a convertible laptop. Its 11.6-inch screen actually detaches completely from the keyboard, making it a slim tablet in its own right. Since it’s so portable, the specs aren’t as impressive as Dell’s: an Intel Atom processor, descended from those that ran tiny netbooks just a few short years ago, is at the heart of the ENVY x2. Configurations start at 2GB memory and a 64GB solid state drive. As for price, um, HP isn’t all that forthcoming. I’m guessing the entry model will slide in well under $1,000.
Speaking of sliding, the tablet portion connects to the keyboard with a pair of magnets and a proprietary port. Inside the keyboard base is a big ol’ second battery, so in docked mode you’ll be able to work a long time. The keyboard base also supplies HDMI, USB, and audio ports, as well as a slot for a SecureDigital card. Altogether, the tablet and base weigh 3.11 pounds.
Lenovo: Like HP’s entry, Lenovo’s IdeaTab Lynx is a detachable tablet. The specs are virtually identical, with one key difference: Lenovo will sell the tablet and keyboard base separately. That means if you just want a Windows 8 tablet, you can get it. If you want one keyboard for home and another for work, you can get it. Oh, and Lenovo actually says the batteries together will provide up to 16 hours of life, so you only have to plug the thing in when you sleep.
PC World magazine reports that Lenovo has a couple other designs up its sleeve as well. The IdeaPad Yoga will open like a regular laptop, but the lid will keep going and fold flat against the bottom of the base, so you’ll have screen on one side and keyboard on the other. They also have the ThinkPad Twist, whose screen swivels and lays back down on top of the keyboard.
Whichever form factor you choose, it’s a good time to shop for tablets.
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