Starting this week most tablets, notebooks, and desktop computers you’ll find in stores will likely come with Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system. They’ll come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from large all-in-one desktops to tiny 8 inch tablets.
Some of the most interesting devices will be tablets with 10 to 11 inch screens. These devices are about the size of an Apple iPad, generally offer long battery life, and in many cases the ability to run desktop apps including Microsoft Office.
Thanks to Intel’s Atom Bay Trail processor, these devices should be faster than an old-school netbook, and thanks to Intel and Microsoft’s pricing scheme, many will be cheaper than an entry-level iPad.
Here are some of the first 10 inch Windows 8.1 tablets, most of which will likely come with Office 2013 Home & Student pre-loaded.
Taiwanese computer maker Asus knows a thing or two about making small computers. The company was virtually single-handedly responsible for making netbooks a thing back in 2007 and 2008, and the Asus Transformer Pad of Android tablets have been popular with folks looking for mobile tablets that can also be used as laptops.
Now Asus is launching a 10 inch tablet that works a lot like one of those Android tablets, but it runs Windows.
The Asus Transformer Book T100 features a 10 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB to 64GB of storage. It has an Intel Atom Z3740 Bay Trail CPU.
The 32GB model sells for $350, and the 64GB model is just $50 more.
Both versions ship standard with a keyboard dock which lets you use the tablet like a notebook. Unlike the Transfomer Pad line of Android tablets, the T100 does not have a secondary battery in the keyboard, but with up to 11 hours of run time from the tablet battery alone, you might not need one anyway.
The tablet has a microSD card slot, micro USB port (which can charge the tablet), and a micro HDMI port. There’s also a full-sized USB port on the keyboard dock.
There’s a 1.2MP front-facing camera, but no rear camera. The tablet measures 0.4 inches thick and weighs 1.2 pounds. With the keyboard dock, the whole system measures 0.9 inches thick and weighs 2.4 pounds.
Dell’s Venue 11 Pro costs a bit more than the Asus tablet, with prices starting at $500. But this model has a larger display, a faster processor, and more configuration options.
The tablet has a 10.8 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display and the entry-level model features an Intel Atom Z3770 Bay Trail processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.
Dell will also offer models with up to 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, and Intel Pentium, Core i3, or Core i5 Haswell processors.
The Dell Venue 11 Pro features WiFi, Bluetooth, an 8MP rear camera, a 2MP front-facing camera, and a 30Whr or 37Whr battery, depending on the configuration.
Dell will also offer options for HSPA+ or 4G LTE mobile broadband, NFC, and 802.11ac wireless. Accessories including a desktop dock, keyboard dock, and active stylus will also be available.
Fujitsu’s tablets don’t come cheap, but they tend to be durable. The company’s first 10 inch tablet with a Bay Trail processor is no different — at 1.4 pounds, it’s not the lightest tablet you’re likely to find. But it has a semi-rugged case that’s designed to be waterproof and dust-resistant, which makes it a decent option for folks who work outdoors.
This tablet is clearly designed for business and industrial customers, and while I haven’t seen an official price yet, I expect it to be relatively high.
The Fujitsu Stylistic Q584 has an Atom Z3770 processor, a 10.1 inch, 2560 x 1600 pixel display, and 64GB to 128GB of storage.
It measures 10.5″ x 7.1″ x 0.6″ and should get around 10 hours of battery life. It has a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port, SmartCard slot, 2MP front camera and 8MP rear camers, and a flash card reader.
The tablet features WiFi, Bluetooth, and optional NFC, GPS, UMTS, LTE, and GPS.
The HP Omni 10 features a 10 inch, full HD display, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage or mroe. It supports WiFi and Bluetooth, has an Intel Atom Z3770 processor, a micro HDMI port, micro USB port, and HP promises up to 10 hours of battery life.
The tablet has an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP front-facing camera.
HP will offer optional accessories including a dock and a wireless keyboard.
Microsoft is also launching its own tablets. The Surface 2 is a $449 tablet with an NVIDIA Tegra 4 ARM Cortex-A15 processor and Windows RT 8.1 software. The Surface Pro 2 sells for $899 and up and features a more powerful Intel Core i5 Haswell processor and the full Windows 8.1 operating system.
Both tablets feature 10.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel displays.
The big question is why anyone would spend $449 on a Surface 2 when you could buy a full-fledged Windows tablet for around the same price or less. Windows RT was developed at a time when ARM chips were far more energy efficient than Intel processors, but tablets with Bay Trail chips offer competitive battery life and the ability to run pretty much any Windows app, not just those that are available for Windows RT.
The Surface 2 is a step up from last year’s Surface RT, featuring a higher-resolution display, a faster processor, and longer battery life with up to 10 hours of run time. But it’s still a tough sell.
On the other hand, the Surface Pro 2 offers all the power of a mid-to-high-end ultrabook in the size of a small tablet. It’s available with 4GB to 8GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage, and an active digitizer which lets you write or draw on the screen with pressure-sensitive input.