As Windows 10 draws near, these are five of the best mid-sized Windows 8.1 tablets


With Windows 10 scheduled to launch this summer, we've decided to find out where the mid-sized Windows tablet market could be going in the near future. We took the time to find the most powerful, most versatile, and most interesting 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets that money can purchase at the moment. 

As Microsoft gears up to launch Windows 10 this summer, version 8.1 of the operating system doesn't have much of a lifetime ahead of it, but it doesn't mean that the ecosystem is dead just yet. 

While Windows 8.1 isn't considered to be Microsoft's most successful product, there's no denying that Windows 8.1 was the most courageous and successful Windows edition as far as as Microsoft's efforts to penetrate the tablet market are concerned.

Note: all of the tablets included in our list run the full version of Windows 8.1. Windows RT is as good as dead.

Asus VivoTab Note 8

Let's kick off our list with the Asus VivoTab Note 8. The tablet comes with an IPS LCD panel running at 800 by 1280 pixels, which is a very common resolution for this display size. Asus sells the VivoTab Note 8 with an integrated active stylus from Wacom.

Under the hood, you get an Intel Atom Z3740 chipset that features a quad-core processor that runs at a minimum frequency of 1.33GHz, but can go all the way up to 1.86GHz. Other specs include 2GB of RAM, 32GB of microSD-expandable internal storage space, a 5MP primary camera, a 1.2MP secondary sensor on the front, as well a GPS system.

The Asus VivoTab Note 8 measures 220.9 x 133.8 x 10.95 mm, meaning that not very compact compared to other 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet included in this list. The tablet tips the scales at 380 grams, which is an average weight for this tablet class.

The 32GB Asus VivoTab Note 8, a good performer overall, is currently priced at $253 over at Amazon.

Dell Venue 8 Pro

If you're looking for a compact 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet, the Dell Venue 8 Pro is probably your best choice at the moment. The 8-inch IPS display runs the same 800 by 1280 pixel resolution as all the other tablets included here, but the size of the tablet is trimmed down to 216 x 130 x 9 mm. The Venue 8 Pro tips the scales at 394 grams, which is about average.

The Dell Venue 8 Pro is powered by an Intel Atom Z3740D, a chip that integrates a 1.33GHz quad-core processor that can go all the way up to 1.8GHz in Turbo Mode. Paired with 2GB of RAM, the chip should offer sufficient processing power for basic tasks. Other specs include 32GB of integrated storage space, a microSD card slot, a 5MP primary camera, and 2.1MP secondary shooter on the front. 

On the downside, the Dell Venue 8 Pro lacks GPS. Dell will sell you an active stylus for $30 extra, and the manufacturer also offers an optional Bluetooth-powered keyboard dock which is perfect if you're planning to write on your mid-sized tablet.

The 32GB version of the Dell Venue 8 Pro is currently priced at $225 over at Amazon.

Acer Iconia W4

Although it is based on roughly the same internal components as most other tablets included here, the Acer Iconia W4 comes with the notable distinction that it features a microHDMI port that allows you to connect the device to an external monitor. The 8-inch IPS display runs a resolution of 800 by 1280 pixels. 

In terms of design, the Iconia W4 measures 218 x 135 x 10 mm, which is acceptable, but it should be mentioned that the tablet tips the scales at 430 grams, being the heaviest tablet included on this list.

The internals include an Intel Atom Z3740 chipset (the same 1.33GHz - 1.86GHz quad-core processor that we've seen repeated multiple times throughout this list) paired with 2GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of SSD storage space, a microSD card slot, a 5MP primary camera, a 2MP front-facing sensor, as well as GPS capabilities.

The 64GB version of the Acer Iconia W4 can be purchased from Amazon at a price of $269.99.

Toshiba Encore 2

Although the four 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets listed above do not come with the highest of prices, they are not exactly affordable devices either. If you're looking to sacrifice processing power but still get a full Windows 8.1 tablet, the Toshiba Encore 2 is an interesting option.

The Toshiba Encore 2 is based on a quad-core Intel Atom Z3735G chipset, one that's a bit slower than the Atom Z3740 and the Atom Z3740D (which are almost identical), but this is not the weakest point of the tablet. The Encore 2 comes with just 1GB of RAM, which is hardly enough to ensure smooth performance even across the most basic of tasks. 

Other specs include a 5MP primary camera, a 1.2MP secondary shooter, 32GB of integrated storage space, and a microSD card slot. The Toshiba Encore 2 lacks GPS, and it also lacks an ambient sensor for automatic screen brightness adjustment.

Amazon currently prices the Toshiba Encore 2 at a very affordable $139.70, although be warned you might be better off saving for a more capable solution.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 (8-inch version)

As you can see, the mid-sized Windows tablet market is not one where unique designs are to be discovered. The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 8 is an exception to that rule. The cylindrical side houses a large battery as well as a metal kickstand, but it does increase the weight of the Yoga Tablet 2 8 to 426 grams. The tablet measures 210 x 149 x 7 mm.

The tablet also differentiates itself through its higher-resolution display. The 1200 by 1920 pixel resolution of the 8-inch IPS panel translates into a much sharper viewing experience. Furthermore, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 can turn any pen with a metal or graphite point into a stylus. While this input technology cannot detect various levels of pressure, it should work well for when your fingers are not precise enought

Under the hood, there's an Intel Atom Z3745 chipset, one that integrates a quad-core processor clocked at 1.33GHz (up to 1.86GHz in Burst mode). In the camera department, the Yoga Tablet 2 comes with an 8-inch primary shooter and a 1.6MP secondary camera. 32GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot are also included.

Lenovo prices the 8-inch Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 at $299.99 on its official website.

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