Top Five Windows Tablets under Recommendation

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There’s as much variety in the Windows 8 tablet range as there is in the entire catalogue of tablets available running all the other operating systems. So it really is up to you to decide what sort of Windows 8-powered tablet you want. Do you want to use it mainly for reading, playing games, typing out documents on your commute or sketching ideas for a new artwork? To help you decide, here’s a rundown of the Windows 8 tablets that we’ve reviewed so far.

Dell Latitude 10 – £375 / $500 (around AU$600)

Business-focused, the Dell Latitude 10 runs Windows 8 and features fingerprint scanners and smart card readers, offering something a little different. The docking station that comes with the tablet also boasts four USB ports and other connections for linking the device to an external monitor and keyboard, in order to use it as a full work machine. It also comes with the ability to swap the battery for a spare, which is again an unusual feature in tablet world. The tablet also works with a stylus, if you buy one separately, and comes with an 8MP rear camera with flash and autofocus, and a 2MP front-facing video call camera.

Nokia Lumia 2520 – £399 / $399 (around AU$450)

Competitively priced and with a playful design style, there’s actually quite a lot to like about the Nokia Lumia 2520. For starters it offers a bright 10.1 widescreen display that’s capable of Full HD (1,920×1,080), has built-in LTE and array of ports and accessories. We were surprised it didn’t have a kickstand, which means you’ll have to trump up an extra £150 ($160/AUS$190) to use Nokia’s Power Keyboard, although the keyboard will add an extra couple of hours to the already excellent battery life.

Our general testing saw the Lumia 2520 last a very agreeable 10.5 hours. We found charging it back up a lot less painful too – it took about an hour, which is a fifth of the time required for the Asus Transformer Book T100, for instance. We also found that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor zipped along and is backed by 2GB RAM, but that speed is for one reason and our main caveat with the Lumia 2520 – Nokia has chosen to use Windows RT 8.1 instead of Windows 8.1, which means many of the big-name apps are still missing: so no Dropbox or Spotify for instance. Although there are workarounds, like Spotlite in Spotify’s case, RT may well restrict its usefulness to you. On the plus side, you do get a free copy of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 and what apps that are available are very fast and responsive. The Nokia Lumia is an impressive piece of hardware and as long as you’re happy with what Windows 8.1 RT can supply, it’s quite a compelling choice.

Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 10 – £419 / $449 (around AU$497)

A Windows 8 tablet with a keyboard that has the lighter specs of a Windows 8 RT? That, at least, is the ambition of the IdeaPad Miix 10. Lenovo goes about achieving this by using a Clover Trail Intel Atom Z2760 processor paired with 2GB of RAM, inside the smart and well-made tablet. This keeps the design thin and light while still being able to handle full Windows 8 OS. The 10.1-inch touch screen with a resolution of 1,366×768 is also a good addition. This is an IPS with decent viewing angles but not 1080p.

Our performance results weren’t fantastic – as long as you don’t need the Miix 10 for anything too intensive it will handle most things steadily. Unfortunately, the battery life wasn’t that spectacular either. Our intensive tests saw it manage just under 4 hours, but that result isn’t helped by the fact that the keyboard drains power rather than supplying it with an extra battery. Overall, this is a capable tablet that’s solidly built but it’s not going to give you top-end performance.

Toshiba Satellite W30t – £600 / $997 (around AU$1,103)

The Satellite W30t comes with an easily detachable keyboard, two batteries (one behind the screen and the other in the keyboard) and sports the latest generation of the ultra-low power Core i3 chip. All this mid-range hybriding cleverness makes for a decent package, but it doesn’t entirely add up to the perfect result we’d have liked. That low-voltage Core i3-4020Y means there’s enough power to handle plenty of programs, but it’s still a throttled performance from a latest generation Haswell chip, which has been coupled with one of Intel’s weaker integrated graphics options.

Additionally, we found the two batteries actually run in tandem, which means they offer close to 4 hours of heavy use, which is good but could have been so much more. Moving on to storage, the 500GB hard drive is perfectly adequate but we’d prefer to see solid-state for that light and more responsive tablet feel. As most hybrids tend to, the Satellite W30t’s design suffers from trying to appeal to two different audiences at once, which is best reflected in the screen. This offers an IPS display that’s bright enough, if limited in colour accuracy, but when turned into a tablet it’s just too heavy and chunky. The Satellite W30t delivers a quality build, but it’s not the perfect hybrid.

Microsoft Surface Pro – £639 / US$799 (around AU$889)

Microsoft’s original full Windows 8 tablet-laptop hybrid, the Surface Pro, has the same look and the same VaporMg coat as the Surface RT, but has a tweaked kickstand and magnetic connectors for power and the two tear-off keyboards. It also has a higher resolution 10.6-inch touchscreen with excellent blacks, a smooth, pressure-sensitive stylus and an Intel Core i5 processor. It can run any application you throw at it, and has USB and DisplayPort connections, but it’s heavier than other tablets and has a shorter battery life than the Surface RT.