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Lenovo, Acer Unveil 8-inch Windows 8.1 Tablets

Lenovo, Acer Unveil 8-inch Windows 8.1 Tablets
By Barry Levine

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A key question about Windows tablets has been how well they function for productivity tasks. When Microsoft first released Windows 8, the company promoted the idea that tablets didn’t need to be restricted only to consumption, given the availability of Windows apps and of a cover with a keyboard. Both Acer and Lenovo are picking up on this theme.
 


In the same week that Microsoft formally released Windows 8.1, Acer and Lenovo are joining other manufacturers in releasing new tablets running that operating system. Both tablets feature 8-inch screens, placing them on the smaller end of the tablet screen scale.

Acer’s Iconia W4 replaces -- and is lighter than -- its previous W3, which was released last year. The W4 features the new Intel 22-nanometer Atom Z3000 Series Bay Trail system-on-a-chip (SoC), running at 1.8 GHz. The chip, with five-fold lower power consumption but 300 percent better performance than earlier SoCs, utilizes the chipmaker’s new Silvermont architecture.

The W4, with pricing that starts at $330, also features an enhanced In-Plane Switching or IPS 1280 x 800 display with reduced glare, a 2-megapixel camera on the front and a 5-megapixel camera on the back, and 32 or 64 GB of storage expandable by an additional 32GB through a MicroSD slot. A full version of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 edition is included, and a keyboard cover is available.

Up to 128GB

Lenovo’s Miix2 8-inch tablet, announced Wednesday, also uses an Intel Bay Trail Atom quad-core processor, features an IPS 1280 x 800 resolution display, has a 2-megapixel camera on the front and a 5-megapixel camera on the back, and comes with an optional stylus and detachable cover. The model can be configured with up to 128 gigabytes of eMMC onboard storage, expandable by 32GB via micro-SD.

A key question about Windows tablets has been how well they function for productivity tasks. When Microsoft first released Windows 8, the company promoted the idea that tablets didn’t need to be restricted only to consumption, given the availability of Windows apps and of a cover with a keyboard.

Both Acer and Lenovo are picking up on this theme. Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 is pre-installed on both tablets, and Lenovo’s stylus is intended to be an aid to productivity for such tasks as drawing, sketching and taking notes.

‘Best of Both Worlds’

Bai Peng, vice president and general manager of the notebook business unit at Lenovo’s Business Group, said in a statement that while many users want a smaller screen tablet, they “do not want to lose the performance and convenience of a powerful, quad core Windows 8.1 device.” Peng added that the Miix2, available later in October for about $300, can “deliver the best of both worlds.”

The original Miix, which came out in June, has a 10.1 screen. The 8-inch screen is becoming a more common size for Windows 8.1 tablets, with Toshiba and Dell also offering models in those sizes. Industry research firm IDC has said that its research indicates buyers are moving more toward tablets in the 7-inch to 9-inch range, even as a number of smartphone models are heading in the opposite direction, toward “phablet” sizes of 5 inches or more.

Some analysts are asking why consumers would want a tablet with approximately the same size screen as a smartphone, when smartphones can offer the ability to make phone calls and fast cellular data speeds.
 

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