At an event in New York earlier this week, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer presided over the official launch of the Windows 8 operating system, which he called "truly magical." Reviews of Windows 8 have been pretty positive, with critics praising the speed of the software, the tiled design, and the touch-friendly interface. So let's say you're interested in picking a Windows 8 device.
Where to start?
Well, the obvious answer – and the gadget that Microsoft has put a lot of its marketing muscle behind – is the Surface tablet. The Surface is priced starting at $499 ($599 if you want the Touch Cover keyboard), and runs a version of Windows 8 called Windows RT. Microsoft hopes the Surface will compete directly with the Apple iPad, although as plenty of analysts have pointed out, Microsoft will need a more apps first.
On the desktop and laptop front, CNET has assembled a useful list of Windows 8 machines, with pithy capsule reviews. Among them: the Sony VAIO Tap 20, a hybrid tablet/desktop with a Core i3 processor, a 500GB hard drive, and 4GB of RAM. "Thanks to a built-in battery and a semiportable design, the Tap 20 might be the most distinctive Windows 8-launch PC," CNET notes.
Looking for something a little out of the ordinary? You could do worse than the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, a 13.3-inch laptop with a multi-touch display. The "Yoga" in the name refers to the flexible screen, which bends back or even flat (images here). The price on the Yoga 13 is $1099; an 11-inch model is also available for $799.
Meanwhile, as Kevin Parrish of Tom's Hardware points out this week, Dell is rolling out a few Windows 8 devices of its own. Of particular note are the snappy Inspiron 15z "ultrabook" – a super-light laptop, basically – the high-powered OptiPlex 9010 desktop, and the XPS 10 tablet. The 32GB XPS is priced at $499, more or less in line with the Surface, and should begin shipping in late November or early December, Engadget reports.
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