posts on CNET

How to choose an entry-level Windows 8 tablet

If the current crop of Windows 8 tablets, at least the majority that run Intel's low-power Atom tablet, were put edge to edge in a police lineup, you'd have a hard time telling them apart. Nearly all are virtually identical slabs of glass over black metal and plastic bodies.

Upon closer inspection, some have more ports and connections built into their outer edges, but this stylistic similarity indicates a larger issue: they all run essentially the same components inside, namely an Intel Atom Z-series processor, 2GB of RAM, a 10- or 11-inch 1,366x768-pixel touch screen, and either … Read more

Acer teases new laptop in 'Star Trek' promo

In advance of a planned May 3 press conference, PC maker Acer is teasing a new laptop as part of a tie-in with the upcoming film "Star Trek Into Darkness."

In the (somewhat cheesy) video, clips from the film are intercut with rendered images of what looks like a massive new laptop. Separately, Acer says this is going to be a "unique" laptop that "approaches touch and type in a new way."

As seen in the video above and these screenshots, this unnamed laptop has an unusual hinge that pivots the entire lid out, … Read more

What's the best low-power Windows 8 tablet?

While there are some Windows 8 tablets that feature ultrabook-level performance, the majority of them use lower-power Intel Atom processors to keep costs down and battery life up.

Even though memories of the Intel Atom Netbook era may make one gun shy about using a low-power CPU, these systems all still run the full gamut of Windows 8 applications -- and even do a surprisingly good job at handling apps optimized for the Windows 8 experience, including IE10 and Netflix.

These are the Windows 8 "low-power" tablets, as we call them, that we've reviewed so far, all … Read more

What is the best high-end Windows 8 tablet?

At least several times each week, we get a reader inquiry via e-mail or Twitter asking which of the current crop of Windows 8 tablets is the best. The answer isn't so simple when you consider that tablets running full Windows 8 (as opposed to Windows RT: don't get us started) are split into two hardware classes: those with slower Atom processors, including the HP Envy x2, and those at the high end, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro.

What makes a high-end Windows 8 tablet? Generally, an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, giving it the performance … Read more

Four recommendable Windows 8 all-in-ones under $1,300

If you are considering an all-in-one desktop purchase, you may have noticed higher prices for Windows 8 PCs than Windows 7 systems with comparable hardware from a year ago. Where a reasonably fast 23-inch all-in-one used to cost about $1,000, you can expect to pay $100 to $200 more for the Windows 8 equivalent today

The good news is that PC vendors seem to have finally internalized the calls for better-looking Windows PCs and more-innovative features. Those things alone don't account for the higher prices we're seeing at retail, but they do help lessen the impact.… Read more

Microsoft Surface Pro versus the competition

By some standards, the Microsoft Surface Pro is the best-ever hybrid of tablet and laptop, combining a full windows 8 OS with an Intel Core i5 CPU, and a best-in-class detachable keyboard cover.

But, at over $1,100 if you include a 128GB SSD and the keyboard, it's also very expensive, especially if a slim Windows 8 touch-screen ultrabook, Atom-powered tablet, or something non-Windows-based would work for your needs.

The following is a quick survey of the major alternatives to the Surface Pro, from other Core i5 tablets to Apple's new 128GB iPad.

Windows 8/Core i5 tablets (Example: Acer Iconia W700) Read more

Windows 8 iPad killers: Round 1

The iPad-killing Windows 8 tablet-laptop has arrived. Problem is, most aren't ready to dispatch the iPad -- or the MacBook Air for that matter -- yet.

So far, reviewers of shape-shifting Windows 8 tablets have not been kind. Otherwise known as "detachables," the devices can take the form of a standalone tablet or attach to a keyboard base to become a close facsimile of a full-fledged laptop. … Read more

Microsoft Surface Pro to get half the battery life of Surface RT

How much does battery life matter to tablet users? Microsoft may soon find out, first hand.

Microsoft went public today with pricing for its Surface Pro PC/tablet devices -- the Intel-based ones running Windows 8 Pro that will allow users to run their existing third-party apps on the desktop. The 64GB version will be $899; the 128GB version, $999. (Both prices include a pen, but no touch or type keyboard/cover. So add another $120 to $130 for that.)

Pricing is not all the team shared about the Microsoft-branded Surface Pros, due out in January 2013.

Surface Pros are … Read more

Apple vs. Dell: Finding the perfect 27-inch all-in-one

This is not a review.

I have reviewed the Dell XPS One 27. The review posted a few hours before Apple announced its new iMacs. I accounted for a potential new iMac while I evaluated the Dell, but that review does not have a direct comparison between the two computers.

I also gave the Dell XPS One 27 an Editors' Choice Award. It makes every other high-end Windows 8 all-in-one look underfeatured. It's the all-in-one I would buy right now if money were no object (along with the Sony Vaio Tap 20).

I have not reviewed the new 27-inch iMac. I intend to when it comes out in December. I did get some hands-on time with it at Apple's launch event. I can tell you that it's not slate-thin like Apple made it out to be during the unveiling (a bulge containing the core components protrudes from the back of the screen). It's still a great-looking computer.… Read more

Five least intuitive things about Windows 8

Windows 8 is neither a completely foreign experience, as some have said, nor is it a smooth continuation of the Windows you've known for the past 11 years, since the start of the modern XP era.

From a hardware point of view, using Windows 8 and its not-Metro interface is eventually navigable after some trial and error, and memorizing a few new commands and gestures -- at least if you have one of the many new touch-screen laptops or all-in-one desktops.

Having tried it on a couple of new Windows 8 laptops that do not have touch screens (and … Read more