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Windows RT tablets and hybrids coming soon

Microsoft, Asus, Lenovo and Samsung are launching tablets with Microsoft's Windows RT

Microsoft will open the floodgates for Windows RT tablets at a release event Oct. 26 in New York City. The Surface tablet from Microsoft will be available on launch, with more tablets from Asus, Dell, Samsung, Lenovo and Acer coming in the following weeks. The tablets are designed for long battery life and will compete with iPad and Android tablets on price and features. The tablets will come with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview, which will include Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. There are things to consider such as support for older peripherals and backward Windows compatibility, but here are Windows RT tablets and hybrid devices that have been announced so far:

Microsoft's Surface

The RT tablet getting the most attention is Microsoft Surface. The tablet represents the first time Microsoft has made its own client hardware, and expectations are high.

The Surface can be ordered from Microsoft's website starting at US$499 with 32GB of storage. For an additional $100, Microsoft is offering a Touch Cover accessory, which is a magnetic cover that is also a keyboard. A 64GB model is $699 and comes with the Touch Cover. The Surface tablet is 680 grams, 9.3 millimeters thick and has a 10.6-inch screen. It has a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, which is based on an ARM processor.

Other features include front and back cameras, Bluetooth 4.0, a microSDXC card slot, USB 2.0 ports and 2GB of RAM. Microsoft is trying to differentiate the Surface from rival RT tablets with some tweaks such as a kickstand to hold the tablet. The tablet will be available initially in the U.S., Canada, Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong and the U.K.

Asus' Vivo Tab RT

Asustek was the first to show off a Windows RT device with the Tablet 600, which has now been renamed Vivo Tab RT. The tablet, scheduled to go on sale later this month, has a 10.1-inch display and a Tegra 3 processor. Asus has not yet officially revealed the tablet's price, but retailer Staples has tagged it at $599.99.

At 520 grams, the Vivo Tab RT is lighter than Microsoft's Surface, and also thinner at 8.35 millimeters. The tablet has 32GB of storage, 2GB of memory, a 2-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera. The tablet's display will show images at a 1280-by-800-pixel resolution, according to published specifications. Other features include a micro-HDMI port, micro-SD slot, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

AT&T has announced it would offer the Vivo Tab with 4G LTE later this year. Data plans or pricing for the device were not available from AT&T.

Samsung's Ativ Tab

Samsung is listing a 12-hour battery life for its Ativ Tab tablet when playing movies, which is perhaps the most of any tablet available today. However, it is unclear whether that battery life will be achieved by using a dock that has a spare battery. The tablet has a 10.1-inch screen, weighs 570 grams and measures 8.9 millimeters thick.

Pricing for the tablet hasn't yet been announced. But U.K.-based online retailer Clove said in a blog that the tablet will become available in late October for about US$735, which totals about $880 including value-added tax.

The tablet will run on Qualcomm's dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, which is configured to deliver connectivity and all-day operation. The Snapdragon processor has integrated 3G/4G capabilities but currently the tablet does not have mobile broadband features. Windows RT is being pitched as a consumer OS, but Samsung has highlighted some enterprise features in Ativ Tab including Microsoft Exchange and Cisco VPN (virtual private network) support.

The Ativ Tab has a USB 2.0 port and a micro-HDMI port. It also has a software and hardware feature called AllShare, which will allow the tablet to share multimedia files with other Samsung devices such as Android-based Galaxy tablets. Other features include NFC and Wi-Fi Direct, which is a way for devices to talk wirelessly without the need for an access point.

Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 11

Lenovo in early October announced IdeaPad Yoga 11, the company's first hybrid laptop/tablet with an ARM processor and Windows RT. The device has an 11.6-inch screen that flips to turn the device from a laptop into a tablet. But with a starting price of $799 it won't be an easy sell as a tablet, especially as it is slightly heavier and more expensive compared to tablets with similar features.

The device will run Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor, and Lenovo did not say if it would have 3G/4G features. It weighs 1.27 kilograms (2.8 pounds) and offers 13 hours of battery life. Other features include 64GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, a HDMI out port, a 720p Web cam, a USB 2.0 port and a media card reader. The Yoga 11 will go on sale in December.

Dell's XPS 10 tablet

Dell is re-entering the consumer tablet market with the XPS 10, which has 10.1-inch screen and Windows RT. The company is targeting the tablet to fit in the BYOD phenomena. System administrators can disable the tablet remotely if it gets lost or stolen. IT administrators can also remotely deliver software images and updates to tablets. The tablet has a Snapdragon S4 processor, but other hardware details are not available. The tablet's price and specifications will be available at a later date.

Other RT tablets

Acer plans to announce a Windows RT tablet at a later date, while Toshiba has temporarily scrapped plans to launch a device based on the Windows RT OS.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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