Preview: Windows 8 device ecosystem

October 26 is D-day for Microsoft, it not only is launching the reimagined version of its cash cow – Windows, but is also launching it first PC hardware product – Surface RT tablet. But Surface RT is just the tip of the iceberg. OEMs have longed for a tablet OS that can compete with the iPad and Windows 8/ Windows RT is their new hope. They are launching a legion of new Windows powered devices, which will don the Metro goodness that Microsoft champions with Windows 8/RT. Read on to find out about some of the more prominent hardware products that have been announced for Windows 8/RT.

Microsoft Surface RT – When one thinks of Windows RT tablets, then Microsoft’s own Surface RT comes to mind before any other OEM made solution. Why? Because it’s not only the first PC hardware but it is a stage for Windows as Microsoft puts it. Microsoft has not only built an unique hardware product which uses VaporMag in its construction but Microsoft has also made two unique keyboards – the Touch Cover and the Type Cover. Both are very slim, but one is essentially a multi-touch keyboard that tries to improve upon the typing experience on tablets and the other features more traditional keys for tactile comfort. Specs wise, the Surface RT is not very different from the OEM made tablets because of the specification limits set by Microsoft. It packs in a quad-core Nvidia T30 processor, 2GB of RAM, twin 720p cameras, 32GB and 64GB memory options, a 10.6-inch ClearType display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels, a microSD card slot and USB connectivity. The Surface RT starts at $499 for the 32GB version. Microsoft charges $599 for the Surface RT with black Touch Cover and $699 for the 64GB Surface RT with the Black Touch Cover. Microsoft charges $119.95 for the colored Touch Covers and $129.95 for the Type Cover.

Microsoft Surface Pro – Essentially it is the same as the Surface RT but in a slightly thicker frame. This happens because the Surface Pro runs Windows 8 and is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, which is supplemented by 4GB of RAM. Memory wise users get 64GB and 128GB options and the 10.6-inch ClearType display this time around has a FullHD resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. Microsoft retains the connectivity options found in the Surface RT, but also manages to add a pen, which can be magnetically clamped on the side of the Surface Pro. The Surface Pro also supports the two – Touch Cover and the Type Cover. Microsoft has not revealed availability for the Surface Pro but says that it will be available in Q1 of 2013 and will be priced comparably with UltraBooks.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga – The IdeaPad Yoga was perhaps the first device we saw that was specifically made for Windows 8. Its claim to fame is its 360-degree swilling display that can attain the downward dog yoga position. It will have Windows RT and Windows 8 variants. The Windows RT version of the yoga will have a 11.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels, a quad-core Nvidia T30 processor, 2GB of RAM, and will offer up to 64GB of eMMC storage. The IdeaPad Yoga 11 will be available in December starting at $799.

The Windows 8 version of the IdeaPad Yoga will have a 13.3-inch display with a resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels, an Intel core i7 ULV processor, up to 8GB of RAM and will feature up to 256 GB of storage. This will be available starting October 26 for $1,099.

Lenovo IdeaPad Lynx – The Lenovo IdeaPad Lynx borrows the detachable keyboard concept from Asus’s Transformer line of products. It runs on Windows 8 and runs on an Intel CloverTrail dual-core Atom processor clocked at 1.8GHz and packs in 2GB of RAM. It has an 11.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels and comes in 32GB and 64GB variants.  It will be available for $599 starting in December, however the detachable keyboard dock will cost an extra $149.

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist – Lenovo is also bringing Windows 8 to its iconic ThinkPad brand. Lenovo calls it the ThinkPad Twist. The ThinkPad Twist features a 12.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels and will run on the Intel Core series of processors with variants offering even the i7 models. Up to 8GB of RAM will be offered and users will be able to choose between a 320GB hard drive and a 128GB SSD drive. Lenovo claims a battery life of 7 hours and it features a swilling display that can either work like a traditional laptop or can be swilled and recessed so that it covers the keyboard turning into a tablet. The ThinkPad Twist will be available starting October 26 staring at $899 depending on the configuration.

HP Envy X2 hybrid – The HP Envy X2 hybrid is a tablet and a notebook, both at the same time. It has a dockable keyboard that gets docked via a magnetic hinge and it features an 11.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels and runs on the Intel CloveTrail chip clocked at 1.8GHz with two cores. Additionally, it has 2GB of RAM, an 8-megpixel rear camera, up to 64Gb of eMMC memory, Beats Audio, and NFC. As it is Intel based it runs Windows 8 that means it will support all legacy applications from the get-go. HP says that will be available from November 14 onwards in the US for $850.

HP Spectre XT TouchSmart UltraBook – The TouchSmart UltraBook 4 s basically a 15.6-inch UltraBook that runs Windows 8 and has a touch screen to boot. It has a Full-HD display and has an Intel Core iSeries CPU. It also comes with Beats audio to boot. HP is yet to announce pricing and general availability for the product.

Samsung Ativ Tab – The Samsung Ativ Tab is basically Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 running Windows RT instead of Android. It features a 10.1-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels and runs on a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor clocked at 1.5GHz. Additionally, it packs in an 8,200 mAh battery, a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 1.9- megapixel front-facing camera. Price and availability is currently unknown but Samsung has started taking

Samsung Ativ Smart PC – Powered by the latest dual-core Intel CloverTrail chip, the Samsung Ativ Smart PC runs Windows 8. It rocks a 11.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels with 400nits of brightness, 2GB of RAM, a 8-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and Samsung will sell a dockable keyboard separately which will also incorporate an additional battery like the Asus Transformer Prime.

Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro – Similar to the Ativ Smart PC, the Pro version of the Smart PC basically swaps the Intel Atom chip for an UltraBook class Intel i5 chip and adds 4GB of RAM. Additionally, the 11.6-inch display gets Full HD 1080p resolution, though the rear camera gets a resolution downgrade of 5-megapixels from 8-megapixels on the Ativ Smart PC.

Dell XPS Duo 12 – Unlike the deluge of Windows 8 products the Dell XPS Duo 12 is indeed an unique offering.  Unlike most swivel tablets, its screen swivels inside a frame. Its 12.5-inch screen features a 1080p resolution and it runs an Intel i7 processor and has 4GB of RAM.

Dell Latitude 10 – The Latitude 10 is Dell’s business tablet. It runs Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro and is powered by an Intel CloveTrail processor clocked at 1.8GHz with two cores. It features a 10.1-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels and comes with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It starts at $649 and will ship on November 14.

Dell XPS 10 tablet – The XPS 10 is Dells Windows RT solution which is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor clocked at 1.5GHz and has 10.1-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels. It will start at $499 and will ship on December 12. It comes with a keyboard dock that retails for an extra $80.

Dell XPS 12 UltraBook – The Dell XPS 12 UltraBook is a full-fledged notebook that features a 12.5-inch touch display with a 1080p resolution. It is powered by an Intel Ivy Bridge CPU and starts with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. As an Intel chip powers it it runs the 64-bit version of Windows 8. It will start at $1199 and will ship from November 16 onwards in the US.

Asus VivoTab RT – Borrowing its heritage from the Transformer Pad line of Android tablets, the Asus VivoTab RT welcomes Asus to the world of Windows RT. It features a 10.1-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels, an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 8-megapixel-rear camera and 2-megapixel front-facing cameras and also manages to pack all this in a 8.3mm thick frame. Additionally, Asus will also ship a dock keyboard like the Transformer Prime but it will charge an extra $200 for it. It will be available in 32GB and 64GB variants starting at $599.

Asus VivoTab 11.6 and the Asus VivoTab Smart – Both tablets are basically reincarnations of the VivoTab RT but running Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro courtesy an Intel CloverTrail Atom chip clocked at 1.8GHz with dual-core. They also have larger 11.6-inch displays with 1366×768 pixel resolutions. Apart from this because of the Intel based architecture, they are slightly thicker than the VivoTab RT. Asus will also have keyboard docks and smart covers for both the tablets. Notably, the VivoTab 11.6 will also come with a digitizer using Vacom technology like the S-Pen on the Samsung Galaxy Notes.

Asus Taichi – Asus will also be launching its Taichi dual-touch screen ultrabook. The Taichi is unique because of its twin 11.6-inch 1080p displays. Additionally the Taichi will be powered by Intel core series of processor and will have 256 GB of SSD storage.

Asus Transformer Book – The Asus Transformer Book is actually a 13-inch tablet, which comes with a detachable keyboard running Windows 8. It features a 13-inch 1080p display and runs on a Intel core i7 dual-core chip. The tablet half boasts a 128GB SSD drive, but the moment one plugs in the keyboard users will have access to another 500GB mechanical drive. Apart from this, it comes with a usual array of ports including USB 3.0 connectivity and Ethernet.

Asus VivoBook – Powered by an Intel core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive and an 11.6-inch capacitive display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels, the VivoBooks pack in a lot of firepower while combining the elegance of its Zenbook line of UltraBooks. The VivoBook also comes in a larger 14inch model called the S400, which increases the display size to 14-inches, and offers an Intel i7 processor and has a hybrid drive, which includes a 24GB, SSD and a 320GB/500GB hard drive.

Asus Zenbook – Asus is even upgrading its Zenbook flagship UltraBook with Windows 8. Asus is pegging it as a MacBook Pro with Retina Display competitor. The new model has a 15.6-inch display with a 1080p resolution, a quad-core Intel i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, Nvidia GT650M graphics, dual-256GB SSDs. Asus will also release a 13.3-inch model of the same and users can get the Zenbook with optional touch-screens to further bolster the Windows 8 experience.

Asus ET2300 AiO – The Asus ET2300 is a 23-inch All-in-one computer running Windows 8. It features a 23-inch touch-display, an Intel core i7 processor, Nvidia GT630M graphics and Thunderbolt connectivity. Notably, it has a unique design that includes twin hinges for to lay flat on a table.

Acer Touchscreen S7 UltraBook – The Acer Aspire S7 is one of the nicer UltraBooks is going to launch with Windows 8. It features a distinct glass cover design that is slim at the same time. Specs wise we are looking at 13.3-inc 11-inch models that will feature 1080p displays, Intel core i5 silicon and 256GB of SSD storage.

Acer Iconia W700 – The Iconia W700 is an 11.6-inch tablet that features a 1080p display, and is powered by Intel’s Ivy Bridge silicon. It comes in two flavours – 64GB and 128GB. Additionally, it runs on Windows 8 and it can be paired up with either a Bluetooth keyboard or a dock keyboard.

Acer Iconia W510 – Like the Iconia W700, the Iconia 510 is also powered by Intel Silicon, however in this case it utilizes the Intel dual-core Atom chip that is clocked at 1.8GHz. Additionally, it comes in 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch models. Both displays have a resolution of 1366×768 pixels. It will come in 32GB and 64GB memory options. This tablet is also compatible with the Bluetooth keyboard and dock keyboard.

Acer V5 – Acers V5 series of laptops will be made available in Intel core i3, i5 and i7 processors and will come in 14-inch and 15-inch models. The V5 laptops will feature traditional laptop features like a DVD-drive, a standard 500GB hard drive, USB 3.0 connectivity and HDMI connectivity.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 – Sony adopts a different approach with its Vaio Duo 11 tablet/hybrid. Instead of having a dock-keyboard, or a swivel display, it has a slide out keyboard that remains a part of the main enclosure. In fact, this is actually in a way similar to the Microsoft Surface. Specs wise, it is a full-fledged UltraBook with a 11.6-inch 1080p display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage.

Sony Vaio T13 – Think of it as a Sony made MacBook that runs Windows 8 and has a touch display. Yes, how close the T-13 looks like the MacBook Pro. But Sony unlike other OEMs has not done a cheap copy paste job and instead Sony has made the design its own. It runs on an Intel core I series of processors and features a 13.3-inch display.

Sony Vaio E17 – The E17 is basically, Sony’s desktop replacement laptop. This huge chunky laptop does not feature a touch display, but Sony allows users to configure it with desktop class specs that include a 17.3-inch 1080p display, a blu-ray drive, quad-core Intel i7 processors, 8GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon HD 7550M graphics.

Toshiba Satellite U925i – Like the Sony Vaio Duo 11, the Toshiba Satellite U925i is a sliding Windows 8 hybrid. It runs an Intel core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and has 128GB of storage. On the display front it has an 11.6-inch display.

Toshiba Satellite P845t – The Satellite P845t is a pretty standard device in terms of laptops. It has a 14-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels, a intel core i5 CPU, 6GB of RAM, 750 GB of storage and a DVD drive. What makes it different is its touch-display for Windows 8 and its wide clickpad that supports Windows 8 gestures.

Toshiba Satellite U945 – The Satellite U945 is perhaps one of those rare laptops that has an odd 21:9 aspect ratio which comes from its 14-inch display that has a resolution of 1792×768 pixels. Apart from this it is a pretty plain jane UltraBook that runs on Intel Core i5 or i3 processors, has a hybrid storage system that includes a 32GB SSD and a 500GB hard drive and has USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 connectivity.

Toshiba Satellite S955 – The Toshiba Satellite S955 has a 15.6-inch display but interestingly it is offered in both Intel and AMD powered models. Apart from this it remains a rather unimpressive Windows 8 laptop as it features pretty run of the mill specs that includes USB 2 connectivity, a HDMI port, 8GB of RAM and 750GB of hard drive storage.