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Windows 8 Hybrids That Give the Surface Pro 2 a Run for Its Money

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Microsoft is giving its line of Surface tablets a new lease on life. With the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, the company hopes to rectify its previous mistakes and deliver not only the best laptop of the holiday season, but also the best tablet of the season. And according to Microsoft, the devices are already "close to selling out."

Priced at $899, Microsoft's fully-fledged Surface Pro 2 isn't the cheapest Windows 8 hybrid available, especially when you add the $120 Touch Cover 2. So before you pre-order the Surface Pro 2, check out these Windows 8 hybrid alternatives, which may not offer the exact same features and specs as the higher-end Surface Pro 2, but attempt to provide a similar hybrid experience, sometimes at a lower price.

ASUS Taichi Laptop

ASUS Taichi 21-UH51 Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 Dual 1.7GHz 11.6" Dual-Screen Ultrabook

Store: Microsoft Store
Price: $699 with free shipping
Savings vs. Surface Pro 2 with Touch Cover 2: $320

Why You'd Want It: Although we've seen laptops with dual screens before, few have won the design accolades received by ASUS' Taichi. This 11.6" laptop features a secondary 11.6" 1080p IPS touchscreen that's built into the laptop's lid. The Gorilla Glass-covered lid is tough enough to withstand nicks and scratches, yet at 2.8 lbs. the entire system is light enough to take on the road. And while it doesn't provide the best tablet experience — PC Mag calls it a "good ultrabook and a mediocre tablet" — it's roughly $200 cheaper than the Surface Pro 2.

Lenovo Edge Laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge S230U Twist Intel Ivy Bridge Core i3 1.8GHz 12.5" LED-Backlit Multitouch Ultrabook

Store: Lenovo
Price: $746.10 with free shipping
Savings vs. Surface Pro 2 with Touch Cover 2: $273

Why You'd Want It: As far as hybrids are concerned, the Lenovo Twist is somewhat of a throwback, says CNET. It uses a center-hinge, swiveling-screen design that's reminiscent of pre-2010 tablet PCs. Nevertheless, the Twist feels firm and reliable with a responsive touchscreen, top-notch keyboard, and solid construction. It offers "one of the better tablet modes from the first wave of Windows 8 convertibles," says CNET. At about $150 under the Surface Pro 2's price, that sounds good to us.

HP Spectre x2 Intel Haswell 13.3" LED-Backlit Touchscreen Convertible Laptop

Store: HP Home & Home Office
Price: $1,099 with free shipping
Savings vs. Surface Pro 2 with Touch Cover 2: $0

Why You'd Want It: Though many will fault the Surface Pro 2 for its high price tag, HP's soon-to-be-released Spectre 13 x2 Laptop will command a $1,099 price when it debuts on October 16. But this tiny hybrid may be worth its premium price as HP boasts it'll be the first Windows 8 laptop/tablet hybrid to pack an Intel Haswell processor into a completely fanless chassis. For tablet use, the laptop's 1080p touchscreen will fully detach from the laptop leaving users with a bigger-than-average 13.3" slate. Pre-orders are scheduled to begin October 16.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro Intel Haswell Touchscreen Ultrabook

Store: Lenovo
Price: $1,099 with free shipping
Savings vs. Surface Pro 2 with Touch Cover 2: $0

Why You'd Want It: With its slimmer design, higher-res screen (3200x1800), and new Haswell processor, the Yoga 2 Pro leaves its predecessor — and many of its competitors — in the dust. The popular hybrid works much like the original Yoga with a 13.3" display that folds back a full 360 degrees to form either a thick tablet or a stand/kiosk device when only folded halfway back, says CNET. Like the above-mentioned HP Spectre, this new hybrid will command a $1,099 price tag when it debuts later this month, which makes it $80 pricier than the Surface Pro 2 and Touch Cover 2 combined.

The above-mentioned systems are just a handful of Surface Pro 2 alternatives. Other hybrids like the Sony Duo Series and the Dell XPS 12 12.5" 1080p Convertible Touchscreen Ultrabook provide even further options to Microsoft's Surface Pro 2, all at varying price points. But perhaps the Surface Pro 2's biggest competitor will come from Dell and its recently-announced Venue 11 Pro, a 10.8" $499 (starting price) hybrid that marks Dell's return to the mobile market. Various processor configurations will feature either an Intel Atom CPU or up to a Haswell Core i5. Pound for pound, this will be one of the Surface Pro 2's closest competitors. However, Dell has only announced pricing for the entry-level machine, so it's still unclear how much the stronger configurations, which will most closely match the Surface Pro 2, will cost. It's expected to arrive in November, along with a smaller Venue 8 Pro which will start at $299.

As more hybrids debut (and we guarantee you'll be seeing more), the marriage between laptop and tablet will become less awkward. Reliable designs will rise to the top, entry-level prices will fall, and better deals will be had on all new and existing hybrids. We may even see further price cuts on the Surface tablets from Microsoft. In the meantime your best bet is to wait and see what's in store for the holidays. Chances are slim these machines will see significant discounts, but with new competition debuting each month, we don't think these price points will have much staying power.


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Senior Features Writer

With over a decade of experience covering technology, Louis Ramirez has written for CNET, Laptop, Gizmodo, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @louisramirez.
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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4 comments
dower
A distinguishing feature of the Surface Pro and Pro 2 is the Wacom Digitizer, for most people this may not be a feature they care about, but it is significant. The only one in this list that has a digitizer is the Asus TaiChi, but it is an N-Trig, which isn't as good as a Wacom.
dealnews-Louis
@randelcole We only compared the tablet/laptop experience as that's what casual consumers are looking for (and that's what manufacturers are focusing on). No doubt the pen will appeal to some consumers, but if that's high on your list of priorities then you're probably not a casual user and are looking at specific machines. Or perhaps the Pro 2 is your machine. Our point wasn't to slam the Pro 2 (which isn't even out yet), but to look at other basic laptop/tablet hybrids w/in a similar price range.

@kkreider12: We just added it to our conclusion. It's worth noting that the $499 price will most likely be for the Atom-based Venue 11 Pro. Configs that more closely match Surface Pro 2 will prob cost a tad more, so it's too early to say how they'll stack up. Knowing Dell -- it will be cheaper, but we don't know by how much. Should be an interesting November!
randelcole
No mention if these alternatives to the Surface Pro 2 offer a pen and the ability to use 2013 Office touch. The pen is a huge benefit for designers and also simply to take notes and then have them automatically turned into a Word file. The ability to draw on the tablet also makes for marking up documents and charts, etc. very helpful. He also left out the new Samsung 3 Ativ 3 which comes with a pen and Office 2013 installed and is less than the Surface pro 2. Overall, this article is poorly researched and half baked. Do your own research!
kkreider13
No mention of the Dell Venue 11 Pro??? At a reported starting price of $499 it should make this list.
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