Tablets are the new mainstay in personal computing, and ARM is definitely the leader when it comes to providing the processors for the platform. Thanks to that, mobile operating systems like iOS and Android are now more powerful than ever and can do a lot of tasks that were originally only possible on laptops and desktops.
But ARM processors still have a lot of drawbacks and limitations – they may be very energy efficient, but they’re a lot slower than their x86 counterparts, and of course, it’s impossible to run any of the “normal” programs and software that you have on your laptop. That’s where x86 tablets come in – with Intel Atom processors, they can do pretty much everything a good laptop can, with the added benefit of an ultra-portable form factor and a longer battery life.
Most of these tablets are powered by Microsoft’s Windows OS, and the latest Windows 8 looks like it will be a killer OS, capable of competing with Android and iOS while still being able to run all of your favorite x86 apps. If you want a tablet that will run all the software you need for work and play, a Windows tablet is definitely worth a look. Here are the top models on the market at the moment:
Acer Iconia Tab W500. The Iconia Tab W500 is one of the best competitors to the Asus Transformer Prime and iPad 2 (the most popular tablets on the market at the moment), and it’s in a league of its own when it comes to hardware specs. The W500 is almost as thin and light as its Android counterpart, the A500, and it features enough hardware power to run any Windows apps and even some of the older games (Half Life 2 and Star Wars Empire at War will work fine, for example). The biggest features are the Ethernet jack and keyboard dock, which turns it into the only x86 ultraportable you’ll ever need.
Dell Latitude ST. Dell’s Latitude ST is super light for what it carries inside at only 816 grams, and with Intel’s newest Atom processor, 2 GB of RAM, 128 GB SSD and a 10.1 inch display, it lets you do everything you could do on your laptop without problems. While the Latitude ST is intended as a business product (with an accordingly high price), the standard features of a consumer tablet are still there, including Wifi N, Bluetooth, GPS, USB and HDMI out ports, SD card slot and two cameras for video calls and photos/HD video recording.
Samsung Series 7 Slate.Samsung takes a slightly different approach with the Series 7 Slate, marketing it as a universal computer from the get-go, which can be used to replace your tablet, laptop and desktop at the same time. To that end, the slate features a 11.6 inch display, Core i5-2467M ULV dual core processor with Intel’s HD 3000 graphics adapter, 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB SSD and a slew of expansion options that will make other tablet envious, including a special dock and a wireless keyboard. The Series 7 Slate is remarkably thin for its specs at only 13 mm, although the all metal body makes it a bit heavy overall.
HP Slate 2. HP’s Slate 2 is the successor to the popular HP Slate 500, and it brings a few improvements to the table that will undoubtedly make the buyers happy. The slate has an 8 inch display with 1024×600 pixels resolution, and is pretty compact for a Windows tablet, while still carrying all the features a business user would need. There’s an Intel Atom Z670 running inside the device, coupled with 2 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. The price of the HP Slate 2 is quite a lot lower than the other devices on the list at $699, which makes it a great choice for those who want a Windows tablet.
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga.The IdeaPad Yoga is the biggest, heaviest and most expensive Windows tablet on this list, but I had to list it because of its unique features. It’s a true desktop/laptop replacement Ultrabook tablet hybrid, and while that sounds like a mouthful, it accurately describes the device. The Yoga has an awesome 13.3 inch, 1600×900 pixels display, and is a convertible Ultrabook – it has a normal laptop design, except its two hinges rotate a whole 180 degrees to turn it into a big tablet. The hardware specs are also impressive: the IdeaPad Yoga has all the ports and expansion features of an Ultrabook, along with a Core i7 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD in its base configuration. It’s the ultimate all-in-one computer if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of portability.
There aren’t that many x86 tablets on the market at the moment, but their number will definitely increase when Windows 8 is finally out this summer. The above five-o is worth a look, though, if you want something that you can actually use for productive work wherever you go.