Windows RT hardware: ARM tablets and hybrids round-up

Windows RT hardware: ARM tablets and hybrids round-up

Summary: Here are all of the leading vendors' ARM-based tablets and hybrids that will be available with Windows RT.

TOPICS: Tablets, Reviews, Windows

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  • Microsoft Surface

    ProductMicrosoft Surface
    Announced18 June 2012
    Available26 October 2012
    Price$499 (32GB), $599 (32GB + Touch Cover), $699 (64GB + Touch Cover)
    Form factorconvertible tablet
    Dimensions (WxDxH, cm)27.46 x 0.94 x 17.20
    Weight (kg)0.68
    Screen typemulti-touch ClearType HD touchscreen with Gorilla Glass
    Screen size (in.)10.6
    Screen resolution (pixels)1366 x 768
    Pixel density (ppi)148
    Pen inputno
    CPUNvidia Tegra 3
    GPUULP GeForce
    RAM (GB)2
    Storage (GB)32, 64
    Storage type
    Cloud storageSkyDrive
    Mobile broadbandno
    Rear camera resolution (Mpixels)1
    Front camera resolution (Mpixels)1
    Camera features
    PortsMicro-HDMI, USB 2.0, audio out, magnetic keyboard docking conenctor, magnetic power connector
    Security features
    Sensorsaccelerometer, ambient light, gyroscope, compass
    Battery type
    Removable battery
    Battery capacity (Wh)31.5
    Battery life (h)
    AccessoriesTouch Cover ($119.99), Type Cover ($129.99)
  • Samsung ATIV Tab

    ProductSamsung ATIV Tab
    Announced29 August 2012
    Form factortablet
    Dimensions (WxDxH, cm)26.58 x 0.89 x 16.81
    Weight (kg)0.57
    Screen typemulti-touch touchscreen
    Screen size (in.)10.1
    Screen resolution (pixels)1366 x 768
    Pixel density (ppi)155
    Pen inputno
    CPUQualcomm Snapdragon S4
    GPUAdreno 305
    RAM (GB)2
    Storage (GB)32, 64
    Storage type
    Cloud storage
    Mobile broadbandno
    Rear camera resolution (Mpixels)5
    Front camera resolution (Mpixels)1.9
    Camera featuresautofocus, LED flash (rear camera)
    PortsMicro-HDMI, USB 2.0, audio out
    Security featuresExchange ActiveSync, on-device encryption, Cisco VPN, Juniper Junos Pulse VPN
    Sensorsaccelerometer, ambient light, gyroscope, compass, grip sensor
    Battery typeLi-ion
    Removable battery
    Battery capacity (Wh)
    Battery life (h)12

Topics: Tablets, Reviews, Windows


Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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  • My favorite RT devices and what I'll use at work

    My top 3 favorite RT devices:

    1) Asus VivoTab RT - both lighter and thinner than an iPad. 15 hours battery life. Don't forget that it has 2 things the Surface RT does NOT -- NFC and GPS. My Lumia 920 has NFC. You can do things like tap your phone on the back of your Tablet to share a game and start a multiplayer session. This will also have SKUs for 3G/4G/LTE connectivity.

    2) Acer Iconia W510 - I've been super impressed by Acer and all their Windows 8 devices. This one in particular is cheaper than Surface RT, but I really like the keyboard on this one as well as the different positions. Also it has the longest battery life of any tablet I've known with 18 hours!

    3) Surface RT - Love this device. Trying both Touch Cover and Type Cover, I actually prefer Touch Cover--it just works freakishly so. And this is coming from a gamer who is particular about his cherry MX brown vs cherry MX black switches. ;)

    Another point about these tablets which connect to a keyboard dock. People aren't advertising this enough, but when you plug your tablet back into the keyboard dock, the battery in the keyboard dock charges and tops off the battery in the upper tablet without even being plugged into a power outlet. So you always leave with your tablet charged up, sick!

    At my job I currently use a Thinkpad W520. I'll be changing out this heavy, bulky thing with my favorite device I'll use in Enterprise and that is the Lenovo Yoga 13! With that leather palm rest, the sick sleeve you can buy with it, it's versatility, and the fact that you can get it with a 3rd gen i7, 8GB, and 256GB it makes for a perfect device for me in enterprise. And my laptop bag gets considerably lighter. Also, my favorite color is orange, and they have an orange version! I don't need to disconnect the keyboard from my device for my work computer.

    Finally, as my personal Windows 8 device I'll of course be using my Surface Pro when that comes out. Unfortunately only having 4GB as the current offering isn't enough for me to use it at work in Enterprise. More RAM and Harddrive space would bump it up to Enterprise status for the things that I do.

    These are the devices that I love. Just wanted to share my thoughts a bit.
  • More FUD

    Windows RT has a desktop, Office, the usual Windows accessories, a file system amd even Mary Jo gets Notepad with Solitaire free on Windows Store ;-) . For people who are more concerned with their legacy files, it handles your docs and spreadsheets, powerpoints and One Note files. It gives you the latest and best browser and Mail and the handy People and Pictures hubs that work so well in Windows Phone and the same interface on multiple devices. It has a keyboard and will use a mouse and a variety of other USB devices.

    If you really need apps it's got those too, but legacy apps it doesn't. However, since the tools and frameworks for creating applications for WinRT are similar to older development, you'll see a lot of legacy apps ported to Windows RT, just as developers moved from DOS to Windows and to .Net. If you really need a legacy application, then buy a Windows 8 Intel laptop or convertible.

    As for having to swipe too far to find things (just like those scrolling All programs list on the old Start menu), there is an easier way - just start typing in a name and the app will appear.

    There's also the new secure OS, sandboxed applications, no side loading of apps, so no viruses (unless they get through to the Windows Store) and we'll have to see what exploits will work with IE 10 considering it has no plugins and an embedded Flash that only works with whitelisted sites.

    The only problem with Surface is not being able to get one quicker ;-)
    • Agreed, also want to add.

      I also want to add that your company DO have the ability to side-load Line-of-Business (LOB) applications through your companies' app store (if your device is managed by your job). Great story for BYOD. This works already for Windows Phone 8.

      The other thing to point out is that if I REALLY wanted to run legacy apps on my RT, I actually kinda can. Let's say that I want to watch StarCraft 2 replays on my RT device, then I can setup a streaming server and actually stream the presentation layer or UI to my RT device since it has full VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) support. This is cool in the Enterprise scenario where sales reps on the floor need to run a legacy app. The store would have a server which streams the presentations to the Surface RT devices out on the floor.
    • Re: Windows RT has a desktop, Office..'

      But it's not the real Office, more of a faux-Office, lacking lots of features of real Office as well as having weird licensing restrictions.

      And no, RT doesn't have a proper Desktop. Oddly, the only Desktop app permitted on RT is that faux-Office.

      This shows you how bad Microsoft fragmentation has become, when even the company's fans have trouble keeping the facts straight.
  • "you'll see a lot of legacy apps ported"

    Will we? To me this is the essential question. MS has not said to developers "just recompile with one extra line of code and your done", they are saying "reimagine and recode your app from scratch". A bit off putting perhaps?

    You mention .NET, why does MS not provide a .NET runtime on Windows RT? Then legacy apps written in .NET would run without recompilation. .NET apps are not written in x85 machine code but in an intermediate language.
    The Star King
    • Even more FUD

      No, actually you do practically "just recompile with one extra line of code and your done." You must have not ported any apps yourself. For Windows RT there are a bit more guidelines for app acceptance on the market place, so it's good to have a nice, touch-friendly Modern UI to keep the experience of that audience pristine.

      A .NET runtime does run on Windows RT. That's the reason why there isn't much work for portability beyond a recompile and a few lines of code. ARM is a completely different architecture but you have to tell Visual Studio that you are targeting that architecture so it can take care of a lot of the leg work.

      Please stop spreading FUD if you haven't done this stuff. Also, be sure to check out the Windows Phone 8 announcement today for more dev material since WP8 shares a lot of the same core of Windnows 8:
      • Here's the confusion

        .NET is CPU-independent. When you run a .NET program, it basically does the back-end code work of a linker, for the given architecture. So it's not a stupid question to ask that, if you have a .NET application today, why it wouldn't simply run on an RT system. That's kind of the point of CPU-independent distribution formats. It's the reason that Android on x86 or even MIPS is like 75% supported by existing apps, just out of the box (more if, like Intel, you're pushing for x86 NDK ports).

        I suspect the real answer is differences between .NET/Win32 and where Microsoft wants WinRT to go -- they could have enabled this, but have control/UI/walled garden concerns that make the changes necessary.
      • Re: A Dotnet runtime does run on Windows RT.

        How can it? Dotnet can only produce Desktop apps, which are not permitted on RT. To produce TIFKAM apps, you have to write your app against WinRT, which is not supported by Dotnet.
  • Soo this is it...

    The Asus VivoTab RT is no surprise -- Asus invented the Netbook, and they've had one of the most successful lines of 10" Android tablets.

    But here's the Windows Tax at work. Paying $75-$100 per tablet for Windows RT + Office, you're seeing a low end system (much like the TF300) selling at the price of a higher end system (like the TF700). Asus makes really good tablets -- I bought a TF700 recently, and was very happy with the build quality (they have learned -- the first generation had issues), the performance (the TF700 uses DDR3 memory, which can be over 2x faster than DDR2 on the Tegra 3, which is pretty critical, given the single bus architecture of the Tegra 3).

    As long as Microsoft isn't trying hard (this is about the same price and features as the Surface RT), there can be competition. But Microsoft needs to build market share, fast, on RT if it's to thrive. If these don't sell, it's easy to imagine Microsoft cutting prices to below where Asus and others could be profitable.