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1/25/2013
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More Hybrid Tablet/Notebooks Vs. Microsoft Surface

The Microsoft Surface is not the only hybrid device of its kind, usable as either a tablet or a notebook computer. In this review we add 3 new products — the Sony Xperia, Acer Iconia W5 and Samsung ATIV Smart PC — to 5 others that we wrote about last week — the Microsoft Surface, Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101, Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx K3011, and HP Envy.

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.

Microsoft Surface

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.

Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx K3011

The IdeaTab Lynx K3011 starts at $599 and has an 11.6-inch display which allows the optional keyboard to be full-sized. Lenovo, more than any other computer manufacturer, is exploring different form factors with the Yoga and the ThinkPad Twist. It has patents pending on the Twist. Other than the Microsoft Surface, this was the only other tablet I held. It feels well-engineered and oddly light, considering how big it is. The keyboard is docked with a click and seems sturdy enough. The 11.6 inch display allows the optional keyboard to be full-sized as well.

HP Envy

The HP Envy is on the pricey side, at $849 per tablet. HP doesn't give you an option to buy the tablet alone — the keyboard is part of the package. To get the real value from Windows RT, you need a keyboard. Unlike the others, it does not add a battery to the keyboard so battery life is limited to 7 hours. It also has an 11.6 inch display.

Like Dell, HP gives customers a wizard when purchasing from the web site to upsell customers on items such as a docking station and port replicator. The USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Dual Video Docking Station offers dual video ports that deliver "beyond HD video and graphics" up to 2048 x 1152(1x DVI-I, 1x HDMI ) to two monitors. In addition it includes a DVI to VGA adapter.

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