The Windows 8.1 update has happily arrived
, bringing back the trademark Start button, and with it a slew of new devices is getting announced left and right by manufacturers gearing up for the holiday season. With so many choices, our heads are spinning already, so we'll try to handpick a few tablets and convertibles of various sizes that deserve your attention if you are gunning for the Windows 8 touch experience.
We are including only machines with Intel's Haswell and Bay Trail architecture, as this is where the power/battery life ratio gets really competitive, and we are certain we will see much more of those announced in the coming weeks.
The best Windows 8.1 tablets and convertible laptops
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The best Windows 8.1 tablets and convertible laptops
At $1100 in Best Buy for a 13.3" 3200x1800 pixels Core i5 machine with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD, the bendable Yoga Pro 2 is perhaps the best value for money Windows 8.1 tablet/laptop convertible you can grab at the moment. It is very thin and light, and its screen half literally bends over backwards 360 degrees to form a true tablet. The keyboard is now backlit, too, and you can have it in Clementine Orange, too.
Lenovo is on a roll with great value-for-money offers, as the cheapest Windows 8.1 tablet Lenovo Miix 2 comes for just $299 for the 32 GB version with memory card for expansion. The Miix 2 dimensions themselves are rather impressive, too - at 5.18" x 8.48" x .32", it is very compact , and the weight is just 0.77 lb.
It is powered by Bay Trail Atom with 2 GB of RAM, ensuring good performance and stellar battery life, and the screen is with 1200x800 pixels of resolution, which is enough for its 8" size. If you need a cover with a stylus pen for it, Lenovo will charge you just $20 for it, while $50 more will get you the 64 GB version, not bad at all.
The world's thinnest Windows 8 tablet clocks in at under 10mm thickness, and still packs an 11.6" Full HD Triluminous display, Haswell processor, and carries all ports on the tablet part itself, including the USB 3.0 one. There is a detachable keyboard that grabs on the tablet with magnets and serves as a screen cover, too, not to mention the included stylus pen.
As the first fanless design on a Haswell tablet, the HP Spectre 13 X2 definitely deserves attention, but it's not only for this virtue. It sports a huge detachable 13.3" Full HD display part, and an aluminum keyboard dock to go along with it. The processor and storage are in the tablet half, though, so you can just grab it and go, using the full power of Windows 8.
When you need long typing sessions or extra ports, you just plug it back into the keyboard dock, which sports extra battery juice, two USB 3.0 ports, a full HDMI one, and an SD card slot, while the screen part only has a microSD slot, and 64 GB or 128 GB of internal memory.
HP cites long 7.5 hours of battery life, which can be expected from a Haswell machine, but the most important part here is that Windows 8 will run cool and silent on a fanless Full HD tablet, albeit a giant 13" one.
Want a decent Windows 8.1 tablet on the cheap? How about the Asus Transformer Book T100 featuring a Bay Trail Atom processor, which promises 11 hours of battery life on a charge with the keyboard dock included in the $350 price. Not bad at all, but something had to give, and at this tag it was the screen resolution clocking in at the regular 1366x768 pixels.
Developed with careful input from Microsoft, knowing how popular the Encore will be with its $330 price, the 8" slate has a 1280x800 pixels IPS display, 32 GB of storage plus microSD card, rear camera, and is powered by a Bay Trail Atom chipset, pairing good Win 8 performance with long battery life.
It also features dual-microphone setup for great Skype-ing experience and comes preloaded with Office Home & Student 2013, Xbox SmartGlass app, free streaming pass to Xbox Music, Norton Anti-Theft and some more apps, so overall a pretty good value for the money.
Microsoft's Surface 2 has a formidable competitor in the face of the Venue 11 Pro, as it also features a 10" Full HD screen, but comes with a range of processor - from Bay Trail to Haswells, allowing the starting price to be much lower at $499.
We'd be remiss not to mention Microsoft's own Surface line, with the Surface Pro 2 getting an upgrade to a Haswell processor, which ensures battery life close to ARM-based tablets. It still clad in magnesium allow and features improved 10" Full HD display, but at the $999 starting price for a 128 GB unit, there are better values for the money out there.
Sony is coming with something convertible for those who need larger screens at last, and the compact Vaio Flip 14 features an innovative hinge mechanism that folds in the middle of the screen half, introducing new form factors to your portable computing experience.
Very light and compact for a 14-incher, it is clad in aluminum and can last more than 7 hours on a charge, despite the Full HD display, thanks to the Haswell architecture. It also carries the most storage of the list, with a regular or hybrid drives as an option. Best of all - it starts from just $749.
Dell's crazy XPS 12
receives a great upgrade in 2013, and is now one of the more innovative ways to enjoy Windows 8.1 on a convertible, with a hinge in the middle of the display part that lets you flip the screen around and lay it flat for use as a tablet. It sports a 12.5" Full HD display now, and Intel Haswell architecture which brought over more than 7 hours of battery endurance and decent embedded graphics performance.