Alternatives to Microsoft's Surface Pro: Affordable Slates and Ultraportables
Microsoft's big moment has arrived. As promised back in October, the company has now announced that its Surface Pro tablets will be available on February 9 at a starting price of $899 (for the 64GB configuration).
Unlike last year's Surface RT tablets, which all run ARM processors, Surface Pro tablets will feature the latest Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 processors, and they'll be able to run existing Windows programs in addition to new programs designed for Windows 8. (Surface RT tablets, by comparison, can only run the latter.) In other words, these new tablets make no compromise; they're built to offer the best of both the tablet and laptop world.
So while we wait for the Surface Pro's first reviews to arrive, we here at dealnews couldn't help but wonder what other laptops you could buy for $899 (especially at a time when Ivy Bridge laptop deals are particularly low). So we've rounded up a few noteworthy systems that while not always hybrids, offer a lot of value for your dollar.
Apple MacBook Air Intel Core i5 1.6GHz 11.6" LED-Backlit Laptop
Price: $699.99 with free shipping
Savings vs. Surface Pro: $199
Why You'd Want It: The 2011 MacBook Air is hands down one of the best ultraportables ever made. While it doesn't offer any tablet-like functionality, it's light enough (2.4 lbs.) to take anywhere and despite packing a year-old Sandy Bridge CPU, it still offers enough punch to get most tasks done without a skip. In fact, its combination of size and power earned it a 4-star CNET rating. Sure, it's limited to 2GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD, but at $199 less than the entry-level Surface Pro, we aren't one to complain.
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 NVIDIA Tegra 3 1.4GHz 11.6" Convertible Touchscreen Laptop
Price: $699 via coupon code "YOGA11DEAL" with free shipping
Savings vs. Surface Pro: $200
Why You'd Want It?: Before the Surface Pro can win over the public, it'll have to compete with its own lineage, particularly against the Surface RT line of tablets. One entrant we think will be tough to beat is the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11. The 2.8-lb. hybrid features an 11.6" 1366x768 display that flips backwards a full 360-degrees, transforming the Yoga from an 11" laptop to an 11" slate. Powering this 0.61"-thick laptop hybrid is an NVIDIA Tegra 3 1.4GHz quad-core processor. It comes with a hefty $699 price tag, but compare that to the Surface Pro's $899 price and we'll stick with the Yoga 11.
ASUS VivoBook Intel Ivy Bridge Core i3 11.6" Touchscreen Laptop
Store: Microsoft Store
Price: $499 with free shipping
Savings vs. Surface Pro: $400
Why You'd Want It?: While many manufacturers are experimenting with laptop/tablet hybrids, ASUS' VivoBook is sticking to its roots. However, this is no ordinary laptop as it features an 11.6" 1366x768 touchscreen, which Laptop says "provides a solid Windows 8 touch experience in a lightweight design." And at $499, it's the cheapest Windows 8 laptop with touch capabilities we've seen (and significantly cheaper than any of the Surface Tablets).
HP ENVY x2 11-g010nr Intel Atom 1.8GHz 11.6" LED-Backlit Convertible Touchscreen Laptop
Store: Office Depot
Price: $749.99 with free shipping
Savings vs. Surface Pro: $149
Why You'd Want It?: From the ashes of the TouchPad comes the ENVY x2, HP's latest foray in the tablet market. But unlike the failed TouchPad which only functioned as a tablet, the ENVY x2 has the brains of a laptop, but with a detachable keyboard that lets you use it like you would a traditional notebook or tablet. While Laptop found the x2's notebook functionality a little underwhelming (thanks in part to its Atom CPU), it praised the x2's 12-hour battery life when docked with the keyboard. It's also $149 cheaper than the entry level Surface Pro.