Windows 8 tablets have not been a big part of the market so far, in large part due to pricing, as well as other issues. Microsoft’s poor attempts to explain the difference between Windows and Windows RT, and why you would need to buy one over the other, are another large factor in the slow adoption by consumers. While RT devices are now hard to find except from Microsoft, a new crop of tablets based on Intel’s Bay Trail Atom chip are now available.
Bay Trail is the newest Atom cpu, following the Clover Trail line. While Clover Trail gave very good battery life to mobile devices, it isn’t a very powerful cpu. Bay Trail has followed up the battery life improvements of the previous generation Atom chip with a substantial bump in performance. It’s not far off a 2nd-generation i3 processor in overall performance, which is pretty impressive for a cpu that’s fanless and has around 10 hours of typical use in a battery-powered tablet.
And finally there are some low-priced tablets running the Bay Trail cpu available right now. The first is Dell’s Venue 8 Pro. As the name implies, it has an 8-inch 1280 x 800 display. 2GB ram combines with an Atom Z3740D processor that can turbo up to 1.8GHz. 32GB storage can be had for $299, while 64GB is $349. One nice aspect is it’s active digitizer, which works with a Dell-specific pen. A bad point is it only has a microusb port, no video-out. For $299, it is a good way to get a full Windows tablet.
Another tablet in the same display size is Lenovo’s Miix2. It has the same processor and memory as the Dell, and with 32GB storage it is also $299, with the 64GB model $349. It doesn’t have the active digitizer, and also only has micro-usb.
The final device is a little different from both of the previous two. The Asus T100 is larger, with a 10.1 inch 1366 x 768 screen. Same Atom processor, ram, and storage options. 32GB is $349, while 64GB is $399. The option which puts this device apart from the other two, besides it’s screen size, is the keyboard. Included in the price, the tablet connects to it securely, and also you get a usb 3.0 port on the keyboard. It also has a microusb and micro HDMI port on the tablet, which gives it good flexibility.
All three devices come with Windows 8 or 8.1, as well as Microsoft Office 2013 Home & Student installed. Battery life for each is around 10 hours or so, more than enough for the average user. At the prices these are selling at, you can roughly compare them to a Nexus 7 32GB for $269 or a 32GB iPad Mini at $424. While both the Nexus and iPad Mini have better screens, the processors are somewhat comparable. At least now you can get a Windows device which has a price in the same ballpark as a top line android or Apple product. With the Microsoft Store now up to about 100,000 apps, these are some decent choices for potential users of the Metro devices.