More Hybrid Tablet/Notebooks Vs. Microsoft Surface

Jan 28, 2013 (02:01 AM EST)

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Everyone knows the Microsoft Surface now because of the ubiquitous and catchy TV ads, but the rest of the PC industry is trying the same thing: Take a tablet and a separate, but attachable keyboard, and sell them as a hybrid device that can be used as either a tablet or a conventional notebook computer.

Click here for a hands-on review of the Microsoft Surface Pro

We had such good feedback from our recent story "How The Surface Compares With The Other Hybrids" that we thought we'd add three more devices to the list: Sony Xperia, Acer Iconia W5 and Samsung ATIV Smart PC. All 8 devices are included in this story, and the feature charts on page 3 are update to include all as well.

Originally, the premise of the article was that the keyboard had to be part of the OEM tablet and close into a clamshell; and while we've maintained the latter, the Iconia's keyboard snaps on but doesn't fold shut.

Sony Xperia Tablet S

Almost every review you read about the Sony Tablet Xperia S makes a case for the tablet to be a stay-at-home all around family tablet. From its splash-proof protection in the kitchen, a universal remote for the living room and a smudge resistant surface for little fingers, and a guest mode which allows for young people to use it without accessing the web. In this upgrade, Sony moved the speakers from the sides to the bottom so the hands hold it don't inadvertently mute it.

The keyboard/cover — though still OEM — doesn't open like a clamshell as much as creates an angled rest like the Surface. The angle can't be adjusted and it should come with Android 4.1/4.2 (Jelly Bean) out of the box, instead of 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

Acer Iconia W5

The Acer Iconia W5 clearly is a tablet-first hybrid. The keyboard does not close up like the rest in this list. The keyboard dock — like many other hybrids — has a built-in battery which adds a whopping nine hours of battery life for a total of 18. And that's running Windows 8 (not RT).

The keyboard dock is light — maybe too light because when connected in laptop mode the Iconia is prone to tipping. When bent backwards — what Acer calls the "twist" — the keyboard serves as a stand for the tablet.

Samsung ATIV Smart PC

The Samsung ATIV Smart PC's keyboard dock incorporates a touchpad and two USB 2.0 ports, but doesn't include an additional battery, so, again, the tablet is top-heavy and when using it as a laptop — literally in your lap — you're holding it in place with your wrists.

Like other full Windows 8 installs on a growing number of hybrids, users will be tempted to install beefy applications like they would on an ultrabook, but the specs don't support it. According to Tom's Hardware, after Windows 8 is installed, you're left with 39 GB of built-in storage on the ATIV Smart PC. And you'd never buy an ultrabook with 2GB of RAM running any version of Windows.

Next Page: Microsoft Surface, Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101, Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx K3011, and HP Envy

Dell XPS 10

With a starting price of $499, the Dell XPS 10 has an advantage over Microsoft Surface. The XPS has a battery built into the keyboard. Dell says it provides "all-day productivity." Expect five to seven hours per battery for a total of 10 to 14 hours.

Microsoft Surface

The Surface is Microsoft's flagship Windows 8 tablet product. Consumers who don't know the difference between storage space and memory can purchase the Surface and know that it is backed by the OS developer. Windows 7 and below had performance issues with underpowered hardware and Microsoft didn't want to risk that same problem with Windows RT. Microsoft is following in Apple's footsteps with hardware and software to be built by the same manufacturer. The price? $628 with an optional keyboard.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer was the first of the major brands to introduce the detachable keyboard. Variations of this design appeared at the 2011 CES show in Las Vegas, where every manufacturer was searching for the right form factor in products with single screens, dual screens, slide-out keyboards, running Linux, Android and Windows 7. Some devices even ran multiple operating systems.

Unlike the other devices here, the TF101 runs Android. It comes with version 3.2 (Honeycomb) but is upgradable to version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

It is the detachable keyboard that was the innovative feature. Today the design seems to be more standardized due to popular demand. The clamshell design, which allows the keyboard to protect the screen when not in use, is the preferred design. Asus added a battery to the keyboard for a whopping 16-hour battery life.

Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx K3011

The IdeaTab Lynx K3011 starts at $599 and has an 11.6-inch display which allows the optional keyboard to be full-sized. Lenovo, more than any other computer manufacturer, is exploring different form factors with the Yoga and the ThinkPad Twist. It has patents pending on the Twist. Other than the Microsoft Surface, this was the only other tablet I held. It feels well-engineered and oddly light, considering how big it is. The keyboard is docked with a click and seems sturdy enough. The 11.6 inch display allows the optional keyboard to be full-sized as well.

HP Envy

The HP Envy is on the pricey side, at $849 per tablet. HP doesn't give you an option to buy the tablet alone — the keyboard is part of the package. To get the real value from Windows RT, you need a keyboard. Unlike the others, it does not add a battery to the keyboard so battery life is limited to 7 hours. It also has an 11.6 inch display.

Like Dell, HP gives customers a wizard when purchasing from the web site to upsell customers on items such as a docking station and port replicator. The USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Dual Video Docking Station offers dual video ports that deliver "beyond HD video and graphics" up to 2048 x 1152(1x DVI-I, 1x HDMI ) to two monitors. In addition it includes a DVI to VGA adapter.

Next Page: Specifications


Device Keyboard/Touchpad/Docking Station Dimensions Weight
Sony Xperia Tablet S Xperia Tablet Case with Keyboard 10.71 x 10.24 x 1.57 inches 1.3 pounds
Acer Iconia W5 Keyboard Dock 10.18 x 6.60 x 0.35 inches 1.3 pounds
Samsung ATIV Smart PC Keyboard Dock 11.60 x 7.20 x 0.50 inches 1.9 pounds
Dell XPS 10 Detachable mobile keyboard dock- 92% full size keyboard with dedicated Windows soft keys Gesture enabled trackpad Tablet only: 9.2 x 274.7 x 177.3mm or .36 x 10.8 x 6.98 inches
Tablet only (WIFI): 635g / 1.4lbs.
Tablet only (LTE): 645g / 1.42lbs.
Tablet+dock: 1310g / 2.89lbs.
Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 Detachable mobile keyboard dock Touchpad input 271 x 176.8 x 12.98 mm 680 gm
Lenovo Ideatab Lynx K3011 QWERTY Dock 300.9mm x 188mm x 9.48mm 18.7mm-24.5mm with dock attached 1.5 lbs. tablet, 3 lbs. with optional keyboard
Microsoft Surface Spill proof Touchpad Traditional Typepad 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37in 1.5 lbs.
HP Envy X2 11t-g000 11.6-inch diagonal HD LED-backlit IPS Display (1366 x 768) 8.12 x 11.93 x 66 – 76" 3.1 lbs.

Device Battery Life Camera Sensors Wireless
Sony Xperia Tablet S 12 hours 1 MP front
8 MP 1080p rear camera
None specified 802.11a/b/g
Acer Iconia W5 9 hours, 18 hours with keyboard dock 2MP Front-Facing HD Camera
8MP Rear-facing HD camera
Ambient light sensor
Bluetooth® 4.0 + HS
Samsung ATIV Smart PC longer battery life 2.0 MP HD Front Camera
5.0 MP HD Rear Camera
Ambient Light Sensor
Accelerometer Sensor
Compass Sensor
Gyro Sensor
802.11 a/b/g/n
Dell XPS 10 Not specified. Dell promises "all-day productivity" 2MP webcam (front) supporting 720p@30fps
5MP Auto Focus (rear facing)
AGPS (with LTE/HSPA+ configs)
Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
Bluetooth 4.0
LTE(USA) and global HSPA+ options
Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 9.5 hours, 16 hours with keyboard dock 1.2 MP Front Camera, 5 MP Rear Camera G-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-Compass, GPS WLAN 802.11 b/g/n@2.4GHz; Bluetooth V2.1+EDR
Lenovo Ideatab Lynx K3011 8 hours, 16 hours with keyboard dock 2.0M front camera G-sensor, ALS, Proximity sensor, E-compass BT 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
Microsoft Surface Not specified. 31.5 W-h battery Two 720p HD LifeCams, front- and rear-facing Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth
HP Envy X2 11t-g000 Up to 7 hours Front and Rear Facing Cameras. 8 megapixel back camera Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor 802.11a/b/g/n; Bluetooth

Device Operating System Storage Options Processor RAM
Sony Xperia Tablet S Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich 32GB 1.4 GHz Tegra 3.0 1GB DIMM
Acer Iconia W5 Windows 8 64GB 1.5 GHz (1 MB Cache) 2GB
Samsung ATIV Smart PC Windows 8 64GB 1.7 GHz Core i5-3317U 4 GB DDR3
Dell XPS 10 Window 8 RT 32GB or 64 GB
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz DC processor with 32GB Flash Storage or
  • Qualcomm SnapdragonS4 1.5GHz DC processor with 64GB Flash Storage
Not Specified
Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 Android 3.2 Honeycomb O.S.(4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgradable) with Adobe Flash 10.2 support 16GB/32GB; Two USB ports, SD and Micro SD card readers NVIDIA Tegra 2 1.0GHz dual-core 1GB
Lenovo Ideatab Lynx K3011 Windows 8 RT 32GB/64GB Intel ATOM Z2760 (Dual Core 1.80Ghz) 2GB LPDDR2
Microsoft Surface Windows 8 RT 32GB/64GB Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 2GB RAM
HP Envy X2 11t-g000 Windows 8 RT 64GB SSD Intel Atom Z2760 (1.80GHz) + Intel Graphics 2GB 533MHz LPDDR2 SDRAM

Device Ports Audio Display
Sony Xperia Tablet S Micro-SD
Multi-port for HDMI and USB (Can use only one at a time)
3.5mm Headset
2 on the bottom. Sony didn't specify the exact specs, except saying they ’re not on the sides where the hands can cover them. 9.4"
1280x800 pixels
Acer Iconia W5 1 Micro USB 2.0 Port
1 Micro-HDMI with HDCP support
MicroSD memory slot up to 32GB (SDHC 2.0 compatible)
"High-definition audio support"
Two Built-in Stereo Speakers
Integrated Digital Microphone
1366 x 768 pixels
Samsung ATIV Smart PC 1 Micro HDMI
1 USB3.0
Multi-media Card Reader
Stereo Speakers (1W x 2) SoundAlive
Internal Dual Array Digital Mic
11.6 inches
1920 x 1080 pixels
Dell XPS 10 Micro-USB, Micro-SD, Micro-SIM, 3.5mm headset, 40-pin dock connector (supporting HDMI via adapter) Stereo speakers with dual digital array microphones 10.1-INCHHD Display (1366x768) with capacitive multi-touch
Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 Micro SD supports up to 32GB, Micro HDMI, Micro USB, 2 USB 2.0 (on keyboard dock) 3D stereo with max bass response with SRS premium sound IPS panel with 178 degree viewing angle made of scratch-resistant and super tough glass
Lenovo Ideatab Lynx K3011/td> Micro SD supports up to 32GB, Micro HDMI, Micro USB, 2 USB 2.0 (on keyboard dock) Dual built-in stereo speakers, Dual digital microphone, 3.5mm Combo microphone jack 11.6" HD IPS display (1366x768 HD)
Microsoft Surface USB 2.0, MicroSDXC card slot, HD video out port, Cover port 2 microphones, Stereo speakers, Headset jack 10.6" ClearType HD Display (1366x768 pixels) 16:9 (wide screen) 5-point multi-touch
HP Envy X2 11t-g000 2 USB 2.0, HDMI Stereo speakers, Headset jack 11.6" HD LED-backlit IPS Display (1366 x 768)

Device Price Keyboard/Docking Station Total Price
Sony Xperia Tablet S $399 $99 $498
Acer Iconia W5 $599 $150 $749
Samsung ATIV Smart PC $599 $100 $699
Dell XPS 10 $499 $180 $679
Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 $399 $175 (Has built-in battery) $574
Lenovo Ideatab Lynx K3011 $599 $149 $748
Microsoft Surface $499 $119, $129 $618.00 – $628
HP Envy X2 11t-g000 $849.99 Keyboard Included $849.99