The Windows 8/RT hybrids we want to try out the most

Yes, we are now less than three weeks away before Microsoft offers the world its biggest ever product launch event ever: Windows 8, Windows RT and the RT version of the Surface tablet. This is also Microsoft's biggest push into the touch screen product space as it tries to take some market share away from Apple's iPad and the many Android-based tablets, not to mention the Blackberry Playbook.

Microsoft's head man Steve Ballmer wants you to try out Surface

Will Microsoft be successful in launching a tablet-like product? It's very much an open question. The iPad is still the biggest such device in the industry since Apple launched the first version in the spring of 2010. It has managed to stay on top despite attempts by many other companies to make their own mark. Most have been disappointing and a few have been flat out disasters (HP TouchPad, anyone?).

However, there are a number of tablets, as well as notebook-tablet hybrids, for both Windows 8 and Windows RT that could finally break Apple's stranglehold. Apple has already decided that hybrids are not the way to go. In an interview earlier this year, the company's CEO Tim Cook gave his opinion on such projects, saying, "If you merge the two, the PC isn’t as good as it can be; nor is the tablet."

This is the man who doesn't like notebook-tablet hybrids. Will Microsoft prove him wrong?

However, we are not quite as narrow minded as Cook seems to be about this subject. We have already picked out a number of these upcoming products that will run on either Windows 8 or Windows RT that we are looking forward to trying out the most.

By the way, our definition of "hybrid" is a product that comes with both a physical keyboard and a touch screen out of the box that can also be used strictly as a touch screen tablet product. The keyboard may be detachable in some cases. Some Windows 8 tablets will be compatible with physical keyboards as an optional purchase but we have left them out of this article.

Microsoft Surface (Windows RT)

It goes without saying that the Surface tablet is the one that has the most buzz among the Windows 8/RT products that have been announced so far. While we will have to wait until sometime in early January for a Intel-based Windows 8 Surface tablet, the Windows RT version is due to launch on October 26th.

We love what we have heard so far. It will run on NVIDIA's Tegra 3 processor and will have a big 10.6 touch screen. It will also come with a Touch Screen detachable membrane keyboard, something which we always wanted the iPad to have. It will also come with a MicroSD port and a free copy of a (preview) version of Office Home and Student 2013 (upgradable to the full version when Office 2013 officially launches).

There's a lot we don't know about the Surface. What will its battery life be like? Will Microsoft even offer the option for a cellular wireless connection in addition to WiFi? The biggest question is, "How much will it cost?" We hope Microsoft will make it affordable to buy as well as productive to use.

Dell XPS Duo 12

By far the most unique design we have seen for a Windows 8 product comes from Dell. The XPS Duo 12 looks like a regular notebook at first, with a 12.5-inch touch display. However, Dell has designed the product so that the screen swivels around and then lays flat on the keyboard, turning it into a big 12.5 inch touch screen tablet.

While we love the design, we do have some concerns that the mechanical hinge for the revolving touch screen might not last very long under a lot of use, especially for business travelers. Hopefully, Dell will be able to make the XPS Duo 12 so that the swiveling screen will take a lot of punishment. While Dell has yet to reveal the price of this hybrid, we suspect it will be in the high notebook range.

Sony Vaio Duo 11

Sony's Vaio notebooks are among the sleekest made in the industry, and Sony's notebook-tablet hybrid looks like it will continue that tradition. We got a chance to check out a prototype of the 11 inch Vaio Duo 11 at the IFA trade show in August and we were impressed with its construction and its high quality 1920x1080 touch screen display.

Since this will be a hybrid product, it will also likely be on the high end in terms of price, but it looks like it will be worth a look if you are wanting to get such a device.

Asus Taichi

Besides the fact that this Asus product has one of the best names ever, the design of this hybrid has us fascinated. Unlike other similar products which flips or swivels its screen, the Asus Taichi which will actually have two screens. The second screen will be placed on the lid of the hybrid. Asus says that the two screens can be used separately as well as together for two people to use at the same time.

It's pretty slick looking and the idea of two screens for collaborative work or play really appeals to us. Let's hope it works as advertised.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

The IdeaPad Yoga 13 was actually one of the first such Windows 8 hybrid products we got to see up close. Lenovo showed off an early prototype at CES 2012. More recently, Lenovo posted up a page on its website devoted to the hybrid, but as usual, pricing was not announced.

It's supposed to have an Intel processor inside, although there are rumors that Lenovo might also have a version made for an ARM chip as well. We especially like the fact that the IdeaPad Yoga 13 will have four different positions, depending on where a user adjusts the screen.

So, will Microsoft's gamble pay off with the Surface? Will PC makers convince all those iPad users they can have their cake and eat it as well with a combination of a tablet and a regular notebook? We won't have much longer to find out if these hybrids prove Tim Cook wrong.

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Really? These? The Surface is the best on this list but I'm far more excited for the ASUS Transformer Book and Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro

those hybrids most probably gonna be expensive. the reason Windows conquer the market is because we can get cheap laptops that get the jobs done. These hybrids are considered premium and never will beat iPad market. People will just buy cheap laptops with no touchscreens, means they might as well stay with Win7.

I really liked how that Intel Windows 8 demo hybrid looked. I was waiting for Dell's offering but I'm not sure about that swivel.

For me it's still Surface Pro, but if another company releases a good Windows 8 tablet with more than a 10" screen, and 1080p resolution, I might go with that instead.

Microsoft was totally clueless when they tried to make tablets using the non touch friendly previous versions of Windows. And Cook is being equally if not WORSE clueless by not being able to see how clearly stupid it is to see all these IPads in the wild with ridiculous cases, and add on keyboards, that turn the IPad into what it should be, which is an ultra-portable laptop with a touch screen. I think we call that the Surface now.

jimmyfal said,
an ultra-portable laptop with a touch screen. I think we call that the Surface now.

Do we know whether using the 'Surface' on your lap with the keyboard attached even works (well)? I kind of doubt it.

"By the way, our definition of "hybrid" is a product that comes with both a physical keyboard and a touch screen out of the box that can also be used strictly as a touch screen tablet product."

Do we already know for a fact the Surface comes with the keyboard cover out of the box? Seems unlikely given the fact you have the choice between two types of keyboard covers: Slim one and the thicker one.

.Neo said,
"By the way, our definition of "hybrid" is a product that comes with both a physical keyboard and a touch screen out of the box that can also be used strictly as a touch screen tablet product."

Do we already know for a fact the Surface comes with the keyboard cover out of the box? Seems unlikely given the fact you have the choice between two types of keyboard covers: Slim one and the thicker one.


The FCC filing stated that it would come with a membrane keyboard.

.Neo said,
"By the way, our definition of "hybrid" is a product that comes with both a physical keyboard and a touch screen out of the box that can also be used strictly as a touch screen tablet product."

Do we already know for a fact the Surface comes with the keyboard cover out of the box? Seems unlikely given the fact you have the choice between two types of keyboard covers: Slim one and the thicker one.

We could see it sold with both options, theres the 32GB and 64GB Surface so toss in two SKUs of both of those with the different covers and MS has 4 SKUs total to sell at different price points. Wouldn't surprise me if this is infact how they do it but we'll just have to wait and see on the 26th.

I personally want to see the final Specs on the ASUS Transformer Books. If they offer one with a 14" full HD, Core i7, 64GB storage, 4 GB RAM, all of the ports of the Prime with a dock that has a bay for a HD and discrete graphics (hopefully M630 or better), I'd get one on Day 1. It could be my perfect portable Steam system. I could install Steam to the drive in the keyboard dock since I wouldn't want to play them without a keyboard. I just hope they keep the discrete graphics card and extra storage in the kb dock.

It looks to me like the Surface is the only one that is primarily a tablet that you can use like a laptop if you want, while all the others are primarily laptops that accommodate a tablet-like form factor.

This list only focuses on convertible hybrids. Unfortunately it doesn't list any transformer hybrids that have keyboard docks. Those are the majority of Windows 8/RT tablets so it will be interesting to see which one comes out ahead in that comparison. Here's what I think are the best hybrid transformer-style tablets:

Best Atom-based transformers:
"HP Envy X2" - thin, great build, good dock with touchpad gestures
"Acer W510" - tons of ports/connectivity, great dock that rotates into presentation mode

Best ARM-based transformers:
"Asus Vivo Tab" - thinnest, lightest, great battery life & ports with dock
"Dell XPS 10" - longest battery life, great keyboard dock

Best Core-based transformers:
"Asus Transformer Book" - 3 screen sizes and chip configurations, most versatile & powerful

The Surface seems like an oddity in that list, as it's the only one with a removable keyboard (if you can call it that).

What about the other dockable/removable keyboard devices?

.fahim said,
The Surface seems like an oddity in that list, as it's the only one with a removable keyboard (if you can call it that).

What about the other dockable/removable keyboard devices?

Indeed. The others are hybrids but not Surface. If Surface is indeed a hybrid, so is the Transformer Book, the other Asus tablets, that Acer Iconia W700, etc.

This is only for tablets/hybrids that come with a keyboard out of the box, regardless if it's dockable or not (it says this in the article...).

I used to be interested in the Surface, but not sure any more. The Surface RT dont have Win 8, which i need as this will also be replacing my laptop, being as Win 8 tablets are basically Ultrabooks with detachable keyboards and touch screens (AKA tablets that are actually USEFUL). Theres no longer any point or need to have a laptop + tablet anymore.

Then the Surface Pro is too thick and heavy. The Core i5 CPU in it is overkill for many and it needs fan cooling.

A Surface with a Intel Clover Trail CPU would have been perfect. Obviously they are x86 and run all current Windows software, but they also have the same power consumption as ARM, so your'd have just as long battery life. Their performance is roughly the same as ARM too. And theres many Win 8 tablets coming out with Clover Trail that are just as thin and light as any ARM alternatives. A Clover Trail Surface + Win 8 + 1080p display would have been the perfect device for the majority of people.

NoClipMode said,

Then the Surface Pro is too thick and heavy. The Core i5 CPU in it is overkill for many and it needs fan cooling.

from what i understand it doesn't have a fan but i could be wrong

dafin0 said,

from what i understand it doesn't have a fan but i could be wrong

It has a fan and theres a thin gap around the sides for the air to come out. Any tablet with an i3/i5 or i7 would obviously have to have a fan anyway.

dafin0 said,

from what i understand it doesn't have a fan but i could be wrong


It has a fan, watch the video presentation again.. they actually talked about it.

kinpin said,

It has a fan, watch the video presentation again.. they actually talked about it.

And hopefully what they told is a truth, and it won't be uncomfortable to use it on high load.