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Readers Declare They Want Hybrid Windows Tablets, But at What Cost?

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By , dealnews Senior Feature Writer

Last week, Apple's CEO Tim Cook made it painfully clear how he feels about laptop-tablet hybrids. More importantly, so did our readers. Unlike Cook, many of our readers welcomed the idea of a hybrid tablet saying they'd be first in line to buy one. Others even claimed they'd ditch their iPad for a Windows 8 hybrid tablet. An astounding 69% of readers polled believe hybrids are the wave of the future, which flies in the face of Cook's claim that consumers don't actually want such an electronics mash-up.

But just how much money are you willing to spend on a Windows 8 tablet hybrid? Lenovo, which is expected to be the first manufacturer of a Windows 8 tablet hybrid, estimates its IdeaPad Yoga will debut at a staggering $1,200. For that amount you can buy a first generation ultrabook and Android tablet.

However, we can't imagine every Windows 8 hybrid will cost this much, so we did a little guesswork to see what other tablet hybrids could potentially cost. To do that, we turned to today's most popular hybrid, the ASUS Transformer. The ASUS Transformer (TF101) debuted in April of 2011 for $399 list price. (Three days later it dropped to $368; it currently sells for $300.) It managed to bring tablet hybrids into the mainstream without the sticker shock.

Is the Price Right, When Compared to a Hybrid's Main Competitors?

Assuming Windows 8 tablet hybrids debut at or close to this estimated $399 price point — we imagine they'll be slightly pricier since they'll pack a built-in keyboard (the ASUS keyboard is a separate purchase) and better specs — we wanted to lay out how they'd stack up to the devices they'll be in direct competition with. So what standard tablets and laptops are in the same price category, and could a hybrid beat them?

Windows 8 Tablet Hybrid vs. iPad 2
Despite being over a year old, the newly-reduced iPad 2 is slated to be Microsoft's Achilles heel. The iPad 2 has received the biggest discount of any Apple product, dropping 28% in price. In fact, just last week we saw it hit an all-time low of $360 for the second time this year. Even though a hybrid tablet will offer increased input flexibility, it's still likely that manufacturers will have to price their Windows 8 hybrids comfortably under $360 to beat the immensely popular iPad 2. And considering the original ASUS Transformer debuted at $399 without the optional keyboard, we just don't see that happening.
Winner: Apple iPad 2

Windows 8 Tablet Hybrid vs. Budget Laptop
A hybrid Windows 8 tablet may not replace your desktop, but for some it'll replace the need to buy a new laptop. However, today's budget laptops are so inexpensive that a $399 tablet actually seems like a splurge in comparison. So far in 2012, the average price for a 16" dual-core laptop has been $274 with prices expected to go lower. (In fact, just this week we saw an AMD E-300 equipped 16" HP laptop for just $250.) Now we understand not everyone wants to carry a 5-lb.+ laptop, so we also compared our mythical $399 hybrid tablet to a svelte 12" Core i5-powered ultraportable. The average price for a 12" Core i5-based ultraportable in 2012 has been $649, significantly higher than our $399 tablet. So although it lost against our bargain bin laptop, a tablet hybrid easily outprices a Core i5 ultraportable. (However, keep in mind that AMD- and Core i3-based ultraportables have already hit $350 in these past few weeks.)
Winner: Draw

Windows 8 Tablet Hybrid vs. Traditional Tablet
One of the hottest tablets we list on dealnews is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10" WiFi Tablet. In the past four months, the 16GB version of this tablet averaged $380, which is very close to our mythical price of $399. However, other popular tablets, like the BlackBerry PlayBook and Amazon Kindle Fire, are even less expensive than the Samsung Galaxy Tab, putting an extreme amount of pressure on Windows 8 hybrid tablets.
Winner: Traditional tablet

The Verdict
Price-wise, things are looking grim for Microsoft. If it wants to enter the tablet market with a bang manufacturers will either need an extremely aggressive price point or a near-perfect product. Microsoft can make this happen, the question is — will they? At $1,200, tablet hybrids will be a niche product. At $399, they're still pricier than many tablets and laptops, but a little more acceptable. Factor in a few early deals and they might get some traction.

But the question remains — how much are you willing to pay for a Windows 8 tablet hybrid? Sound off in the comments below.



An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisRamirez.

Follow @dealnewsfeature on Twitter for the latest roundups, price trend info, and stories. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.


Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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16 comments
ravilive
I will give any single penny to Microsoft and they want to drive us how they want..
I have already switch to Linux it is better than crappy windows8..
http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu
hawkins1965
If we are talking about convertible (don't like to call them hybrid, what is a hybrid?), one like the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga, I'm willing to pay at a laptop's price. It is a full blown laptop and it is a tablet too. If it can be done as slim as an ultrabook with similar battery life, up to $1000 would not be too much. Plus I would expect price to come down fairly quickly. Look at the prices of the ultrabooks now v.s. last year.
I would treat it primarily as a laptop and secondly a tablet.
dealnews-Louis
Right, Windows 8 will run on both ARM- and x86-based hardware. But I agree that the x86-based tablets will most likely be the ones to give that extra laptop-like power. (On a side note, I wonder if this will cause any confusion amongst non-techie buyers. Will they know that ARM-based tablets aren't backwards compatible w/ Win7 software. Will they even care? I see lots of confusion in the future. But that's a diff story).

Manufacturers will have to play their cards very carefully. I still think non-techie consumers will freak out when they see a $1,200+ Win8 tablet/laptop running a whole new version of Windows that looks nothing like the prev one. And the tablets themselves have to be solid -- a flimsy keyboard would be such a deal killer.

As much as I'd like to see more competition in the laptop/tablet market -- I'm still very skeptical of the hybrids. (Though you guys are doing a good job of bringing your point across!)
jfchandler
I think Toneloc above raised the most important point that Louis didn't touch in his original post...

There won't just be Win 8 hybrid tablets... but there will be two largely different varieties, the X86 fully compatible with Windows ones, certainly at higher prices, and then the ARM-based less expensive ones, which we already know for certain won't be backwards Windows compatible.

I'm just trying to decide where to put my first tablet purchase, not intending it to replace either my desktop or laptop PCs... And for me, the market has been in flux and changing too fast for me to want to make a tablet investment yet... Waiting ICS on Android, waiting Win 8 tabs, waiting the upcoming Google tab...and then see.

But for those here talking about tablets as a replacement for either their desktop or laptop PCs -- depending on how you use them -- that's likely going to mean opting into the higher priced fully Windows compatible tablets, and not the ARM processor-based ones... And that pretty well shoots down the notion of spending $300 or $400 for one at launch -- at least based on all indications thus far.
 
jbwhite99
I am anxiously awaiting the Lenovo Yoga product - I think it will be really cool - it is really a competitor to the MacBook Air - you need to compare the fact that it is a full-featured notebook AND a Windows 8 tablet.  Touchscreens are fairly expensive (both to build, and to replace under warranty) - that's why you see these touchscreen notebooks so expensive.

For anyone that is writing that Microsoft needs to price the tablet at ___, MS has no control over price - the only part they control is the royalties they collect from the PC makers.

iPhones do not sell for $199 or whatever - AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint pay $599 or more for these phones - and then you kick in $20 a month to subsidize the cost.  So if you don't get a new phone after 2 years, you are overpaying these carriers.

One other thing that people don't realize - Apple is big in the US, but that's it.  Apple has no PC marketshare outside the US.  They do sell iPhones and iPads, but no one outside the US uses a Mac.  There are 3 Apple stores in China, there are 10,000+ Lenovo stores, based on an article in Fast Company.  Apple makes good products - but they are simple, locked, and restricted - that's why they don't break.  I'll stick with my Rezound and my Thinkpad - I can do whatever I want
Cmdr Hap
A comparison using the Acer W500 might be more interesting. The costs are very similar and the Acer can be loaded with the Beta Consumer Preview. (like the the $480.00 one I'm using to type this)
Toneloc427
This article misses one MAJOR point: ARM vs x86/x64 CPU architecture. A $1200 ARM-based hybrid would be absurd, but an Ivy Bridge-powered hybrid ultrabook that would replace my desktop, 2 laptops, and iPad 2 and get an honest 8 hours of runtime? I'd say $1200 would be pretty fair.

Also keep in mind that Windows 8 for ARM will not run programs written for Win7/Win8 x86.
lemming0531
when you talk about hybrid, you think about the ultimate "one device", can run like a high end windows laptop, have millions of apps to use like a ipad, so it's better microsoft make it perfect like this, then price it at around 1000, it would be a market killer
uronacid
There are many articles floating around on the internet suggesting Windows 8 hybrid tablets are a replacement to the iPad without mentioning that they're fully functional PC's as well. The only similarities between them are the touch screen and the fact that they can operate independently of a keyboard. 

Unlike the iPad, Windows 8 tablets will have the same specifications of PCs today. Manufacturers will take pride in placing specific components in their tablet, and advertise them as such. I predict expensive gaming tablets and cheap web browsing tablets. 

This is not really a fair comparison. Windows 8 hybrid tablets will be totally different from the traditional tablets we use today. Windows 8 tablets will be able replace laptops and desktops.
kinghiggs
The poll question was "hybrid tablets" vs iPad; not "hybrid Windows 8 tablets."  Two years ago I bought a Lenovo convertible tablet running Win7; it's a virtual brick.  With less than 4 hours battery life, it takes a significant portion of my lifetime to boot, and demands constant and time-consuming Windows updates.  I replaced it with a Moto Xoom last year, and that has been the culmination of my long-time dream for a laptop replacement.  Total cost under $350, including extensive productivity and security software (thanks in large part to DealNews).  I have a Bluetooth keyboard, but I hardly need it. 

Hybrid tablet?  Yes.  iPad?  No, thanks.  Win-anything?  Hell, no.

And no, I'm not an anti-Apple troll, or an anti-Windows troll, for that matter.  I just bought an iPhone for my daughter last week, and have used the iPad.  I just prefer open architecture and market freedom--and low prices.  Google hurt itself early with multiple Android platforms that discouraged software developers who could write one program for all iOS devices, but it has (finally) begun to consolidate Android devices into a single OS with Ice Cream Sandwich.  And my Android phone and Xoom both play very nicely with my Windows desktop--that is, when I need it, which is less and less.
dive
Samsung S7 Slate.... the hybrid already exists, and works awesome as both.  Yes, it costs as much as a laptop, but that's what it is.  Windows 7, but can be 8 when it comes out.
dealnews-Louis
For this article, we wanted to compare Windows 8 hybrids to other categories (such as a budget laptop, an Apple tablet, an Android tablet). It wasn't meant to be a direct comparison against current hybrids like the Transformer.
dealnews-Louis
We compared it to the iPad 2 (instead of the iPad 3) because Apple kept the iPad 2 around specifically to compete on price. Plus, the iPad 2's price is a better match for our mythical $399 price than the iPad 3's price of $499.

Any new tablet that comes out will have to offer more for less money than the iPad 2 otherwise it won't succeed. That's been proven by sales. Take for example Amazon's Kindle Fire at $199. Recent comScore data shows that the Fire has already taken 54% of the Android tablet market. What other Android tablet has been able to do that in so little time? To my knowledge, none and that's because they've all (mostly) been priced higher than the iPad. So MS will have to follow in Amazon's footsteps if it wants to gain traction in the tablet market. Otherwise it'll be "another tablet" in a market overflooded with options.

http://www.comscore.com/...f_Android_Tablet_Market
mnwa
Stupid article - the author does not have any credibility! Apple has
proved by iPhone/iPad that price is not a factor at all when comes to need, usability,
functionality and style. So if Microsoft makes this right, there is a good
chance hybrid tablets will get the market. I am currently an “iPad 2” user and
Apple fan, but if I get a tablet that also replaces my need for laptop or
desktop, I will get that one over my iPad. Currently my biggest problem is to
keep my iPad in sync with my laptop. Also I paid $729+tax to get my 32GB WiFi+3G iPad
and I paid another $700 for my laptop. So if I get a hybrid tablet that cost even
$900 (I doubt MS will make it more expensive than iPad though), I would be saving
money. A tablet is not a replacement of a laptop/desktop. A recent survey
suggests that there are less than 1% tablet users who do not have a
laptop/desktop. So you do the math.
ninny1176
You're comparison of an iPad 2 (already replaced with iPad 3 as I'm sure you are aware) to a MS tablet hyrbrid that hasn't been released is nonsensical, highly misleading, and displays a clear bias to Apple products.

Compare the current iPad 3 at it's top end ($829) to Windows 8 hybrids and your comparison falls flat especially when you take an iPad plus a Bluetooth keyboard, an iPad stand, and a case to carry all of it...well, you do the math, iPad doesn't stand up so well anymore. Not to mention that iPad, or "i" anything, is designed to trap you in the Apple walled-garden...that's worth every penny to not have to be part of.
Alien
How come there is not mention of the Asus Transformer? The FIRST and a HYBRID ALREADY AVAILABLE. A tablet is far ahead of any other tablet, even ahead of iPad. These authors are so biased for Apple products. If Apple said from tomorrow you have to stand in one foot using iProduct they will do it.

ASUS Transformer is the one to beat.
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