We have updated this review to add three more devices, the Sony Xperia, Acer Iconia W5 and Samsung ATIV Smart PC. Click here to read our updated review.
When Microsoft Surface hit Best Buy shelves two weeks before Christmas, consumers were able for the first time to hold the tablet and compare it to similar products, like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and others (see below). Until then, consumers could only see the device in ads and test it in one of the 70 Microsoft stores and kiosks in the U.S.
Click here for a hands-on review of the Microsoft Surface Pro
Despite the Surface's physical similarity to other tablets, the specs are not always displayed. I ran a side-by-side spec comparison of hybrid tablets from Lenovo, Asus, Toshiba, Microsoft, and Dell. To be considered a hybrid, each tablet must have an OEM keyboard that closes like a clamshell for a notebook-like look.
There are many similarities between the tablet/keyboard hybrid models. All are around 10 inches and have 90 percent or more of standard keyboard size. (Keyboards are typically sold separately).
Dell XPS 10
With a starting price of $499, the Dell XPS 10 has an advantage over Microsoft Surface. The XPS has a battery built into the keyboard. Dell says it provides "all-day productivity." Expect five to seven hours per battery for a total of 10 to 14 hours.
The Surface is Microsoft's flagship Windows 8 tablet product. Consumers who don't know the difference between storage space and memory can purchase the Surface and know that it is backed by the OS developer. Windows 7 and below had performance issues with underpowered hardware and Microsoft didn't want to risk that same problem with Windows RT. Microsoft is following in Apple's footsteps with hardware and software to be built by the same manufacturer. The price? $628 with an optional keyboard.
Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer was the first of the major brands to introduce the detachable keyboard. Variations of this design appeared at the 2011 CES show in Las Vegas, where every manufacturer was searching for the right form factor in products with single screens, dual screens, slide-out keyboards, running Linux, Android and Windows 7. Some devices even ran multiple operating systems.
Unlike the other devices here, the TF101 runs Android. It comes with version 3.2 (Honeycomb) but is upgradable to version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
It is the detachable keyboard that was the innovative feature. Today the design seems to be more standardized due to popular demand. The clamshell design, which allows the keyboard to protect the screen when not in use, is the preferred design. Asus added a battery to the keyboard for a whopping 16-hour battery life.
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