The folks at Lenovo have as many tablets as any OEM, and the Miix 2 8 is a good 8-inch model that packs a lot of punch for the decent price of $299. It has Bay Trail inside, and ships with Windows 8.1 and Microsoft Office.
The Miix 2 8 has good hardware specs for that reasonable price. It is available at Best Buy and Lenovo configured as reviewed.
Miix 2 8 hardware specs as reviewed:
Processor: 1.3 GHz Intel Atom Quad-core (Bay Trail)
Display: 8-inch, 1280x800, IPS
Camera: Front — 2MP; Rear — 5MP
OS: Windows 8.1
Storage: 32GB SSD (64GB model available for $309)
Ports: audio combo, microSD, microUSB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0
Battery: 7+ hours
Dimensions: 5.2" x 8.5" x 0.3"
The Miix 2 8 is comfortable to hold in the hand for extended periods. While the screen rotates to support all four orientations, the placement of the Windows button and Lenovo logo support the portrait orientation for primary use. The narrow width of the tablet fits perfectly in the hand.
The tablet weighs about the same as the iPad mini, and feels good in the hand. The light weight is distributed evenly for use in both portrait and landscape orientations.
All of the controls are on the right side of the Miix 2 8 with the exception of the audio jack on top of unit, in the default portrait orientation. Those controls are the power button, volume rocker, and also the microSD slot. There is a 5MP camera on the back of the tablet.
Using the tablet
The 8-inch display is IPS and thus supports wide viewing angles as demonstrated in the image above. It's not the brightest display but has decent color saturation. There is a 2MP web cam in the center of the top bezel, and a capacitive touch Windows button below the screen.
The Bay Trail processor is a good performer, and overall runs things nicely. There is an occasional lag between typing on the onscreen keyboard and the appearance of the typed characters, but this only occurs infrequently.
I let a friend use the Miix 2 8 and we both find the 8-inch size to be perfect for surfing the web and reading Kindle ebooks. The lack of a physical keyboard option makes the Miix 2 8 a tablet designed for consuming media, and it shines at that function. It does come with Microsoft Office so it's possible to use it for some work functions, but the small display (1280x800) is not designed for heavy work on documents. It's nice to have that ability for emergencies, however.
There is no pen included with the Miix 2 8 which would be well suited for the 8-inch size. Lenovo does offer a Flip Cover for $29.99 which includes a stylus. Note that Lenovo has indicated the stylus is a capacitive touch model, as there is no active digitizer on the tablet.
Lenovo claims a battery life of 7+ hours, and I found 8 hours to be what I got out of a charge. This is not quite the 10-hour battery life that many 8-inch tablets get. The tablet charges via microUSB, and unfortunately Lenovo includes a paltry 3-foot cable for that purpose.
Reasonable price ($299)
Full Windows 8.1
Microsoft Office included ($139 value)
8 hours of battery life on the low side
Windows button is touch, not physical button
3-foot charging cable is too short
Lenovo provides a lot of value with the Miix 2 8 for $299. The Bay Trail processor provides decent performance, while the 8-inch display makes the highly portable form a reality.
That processor means the Miix 2 8 runs full Windows 8.1, and the inclusion of Microsoft Office makes it an even better value.