February 07, 2013, 3:05 PM — Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet with the Windows 8 OS is due to ship on Feb. 9, starting at US$899. The tablet will have a 10.6-inch screen and come in models with 64GB and 128GB of storage. Surface Pro's early reviews have been mixed, and there are many Windows 8 alternatives already available from Samsung, Acer, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard. The tablets come with touchscreens and Intel's Core processors, and a keyboard attachment turns the tablets into full Windows 8 laptops. The tablets mostly come with 128GB of storage.
But the Core processor demands a lot of power, so these tablets won't offer the battery life of Microsoft's Surface RT or Android tablets, or even Windows 8 tablets running on Intel's tablet-specific Atom chip code-named Clover Trail. Windows RT devices cannot run existing Windows applications, however, so Surface Pro alternatives could appeal to buyers looking for a PC and tablet in one.
"I would absolutely love a product that could double as a tablet for easy carrying," said Catherine Chang, who is master instructor at Chang's Taekwondo America in Methuen, Massachusetts.
She already uses laptops at home and school, and uses Apple's iPhone 4 often for tasks such as email and Web browsing. But she is looking to buy a new laptop and has considered a tablet, and a device that combines the best of both is attractive, Chang said.
Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 13
Lenovo has coined the term "multimode" for devices that merge tablet and laptop functionality. The Chinese PC maker is selling Yoga 13 starting at $1,049 with a 13.3-inch touchscreen. The device turns into a tablet by folding the screen, which leaves the keyboard exposed. It can feel uneasy using Yoga 13 in tablet mode with the fingers flitting over the non-functioning keys at the back of the device, but that hasn't stopped people from buying the popular device. Yoga 13 comes with Intel's Core i3 processor and is available on Lenovo's website. The Yoga 13 has a 13.3-inch screen, weighs 1.5 kilograms and offers eight hours of battery life, which is comparable to laptops. The screen displays images at a 1600-by-900-pixel resolution, and the device has a webcam.
A less expensive option would be the ThinkPad Twist, which has a classic convertible laptop design and starts at $829. Lenovo sells the ThinkPad Tablet 2 with Windows 8 starting at $629, but the device runs on Intel's Atom tablet processor. A smaller version of the Yoga 13, the Yoga 11, with Windows RT and an ARM processor, starts at $749.
Samsung's Ativ Tab Smart PC Pro 700T