How The Surface Compares With The Other Hybrids

For a detailed look at how the Microsoft Surface compares to other hybrids on the market, here is a review of the features in these combination laptop-tablets. We look at 4 Windows 8 hybrids — the Microsoft Surface, Dell XPS 10, Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx K3011 and HP Envy — and one Android hybrid, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer.

Dino Londis, Contributor

January 16, 2013

14 Min Read

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.

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.

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.

Next Page: Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx K3011, HP Envy and Specifications

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 website 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.


Keyboard/Touchpad/Docking Station



Dell XPS 10

Detachable mobile keyboard dock- 92% full size keyboard with dedicated Windows soft keys Gesture enabled trackpad

Tablet only: 9.2 x 274.7 x 177.3mm or .36 x 10.8 x 6.98 inches

Tablet only (WIFI): 635g / 1.4lbs.Tablet only (LTE): 645g / 1.42lbs.Tablet+dock: 1310g / 2.89lbs.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer


Detachable mobile keyboard dock Touchpad input

271 x 176.8 x 12.98 mm 680 gm

Lenovo Ideatab Lynx K3011


300.9mm x 188mm x 9.48mm 18.7mm-24.5mm with dock attached

1.5 lbs. tablet, 3 lbs. with optional keyboard

Microsoft Surface

Spillproof Touchpad

Traditional Typepad 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37in

1.5 lbs.

HP Envy X2 11t-g000

11.6-inch diagonal HD LED-backlit IPS Display (1366 x 768)

8.12 x 11.93 x 66 – 76"

3.1 lbs.


Battery Life




Dell XPS 10

Not specified. Dell promises "all-day productivity"

2MP webcam (front) supporting 720p@30fps5MP Auto Focus (rear facing)

AccelerometerGyroscopeCompassAGPS (with LTE/HSPA+ configs)ALS

Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)Bluetooth 4.0LTE(USA) and global HSPA+ options

Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101

9.5 hours, 16 hours with keyboard dock

1.2 MP Front Camera, 5 MP Rear Camera

G-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-Compass, GPS

WLAN 802.11 b/g/[email protected]; Bluetooth V2.1+EDR

Lenovo Ideatab Lynx K3011

8 hours, 16 hours with keyboard dock

2.0M front camera

G-sensor, ALS, Proximity sensor, E-compass

BT 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n

Microsoft Surface

Not specified. 31.5 W-h battery

Two 720p HD LifeCams, front- and rear-facing

Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass

Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth

HP Envy X2 11t-g000

Up to 7 hours

Front and Rear Facing Cameras. 8 megapixel back camera

Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor

802.11a/b/g/n; Bluetooth


Operating System

Storage Options


Dell XPS 10

Window 8 RT

32GB or 64 GB

Not Specified

Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101

Android 3.2 Honeycomb O.S.(4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgradable) with Adobe Flash 10.2 support

16GB/32GB; Two USB ports, SD and Micro SD card readers

NVIDIA Tegra 2 1.0GHz dual-core

Lenovo Ideatab Lynx K3011

Windows 8 RT


Intel ATOM Z2760 (Dual Core 1.80Ghz)

Microsoft Surface

Windows 8 RT


Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3

HP Envy X2 11t-g000

Windows 8 RT


Intel Atom Z2760 (1.80GHz) + Intel Graphics





Dell XPS 10

Micro-USB, Micro-SD, Micro-SIM, 3.5mm headset, 40-pin dock connector (supporting HDMI via adapter)

Stereo speakers with dual digital array microphones

10.1-INCHHD Display (1366x768) with capacitive multi-touch

Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101

Micro SD supports up to 32GB, Micro HDMI, Micro USB, 2 USB 2.0 (on keyboard dock)

3D stereo with max bass response with SRS premium sound

IPS panel with 178 degree viewing angle made of scratch-resistant and super tough glass

Lenovo Ideatab Lynx K3011/td>

Micro SD supports up to 32GB, Micro HDMI, Micro USB, 2 USB 2.0 (on keyboard dock)

Dual built-in stereo speakers, Dual digital microphone, 3.5mm Combo microphone jack

11.6" HD IPS display (1366x768 HD)

Microsoft Surface

USB 2.0, MicroSDXC card slot, HD video out port, Cover port

2 microphones, Stereo speakers, Headset jack

10.6" ClearType HD Display (1366x768 pixels) 16:9 (widescreen) 5-point multi-touch

HP Envy X2 11t-g000

2 USB 2.0, HDMI

Stereo speakers, Headset jack

11.6" HD LED-backlit IPS Display (1366 x 768)



Keyboard/Docking Station

Total Price

Dell XPS 10




Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101


$175 (Has built-in battery)


Lenovo Ideatab Lynx K3011




Microsoft Surface


$119, $129

$618.00 – $628

HP Envy X2 11t-g000


Keyboard Included


Next Page: Summary


If you're looking for the most processor for your buck, the Surface's Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 would play a large factor in your decision. But that's the difference between hybrids and laptops. Where bragging rights on laptops where earned on processor and RAM, on hybrids they're on display, battery life, and versatility.

None of these 5 hybrids separated themselves with a display better than 1366 x768. In contrast, the iPad's Retina display has a 2048 x 1536.

Long battery life like the 16 hours battery life in the Lenovo Ideatab is a game-changer -- beating even the iPad by 5 hours. For the first time, a laptop/hybrid user can do work without being tethered to the wall and not race the power indicator to zero.

Other than the HP Envy, the pricing is deceptive because to get the real value out of these hybrids, you'll need a keyboard, which can boost the price as much as $180. But in some cases, the keyboard increases the value because it extends battery life.

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