New Windows 8 tablets fail to impress

Video featuring newest Windows 8 PCs from Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba, and Vizio will leave users yearning for the Surface Pro

The Consumer Electronics Show has reached full swing and a very slick video from the YouTube Windows Video channel is making the rounds, titled "CES 2013: 9 New PCs Built for Windows 8." A little bit of sleuthing left me supremely unimpressed.

However, because Microsoft itself isn't exhibiting at CES -- although CEO Steve Ballmer and ex-Windows chief Steven Sinofsky are there -- this may come as close as we'll get to a superstar list of new Win8 technology. So permit me to step through the featured "Built for Windows 8" PCs.

The Asus Transformer Book TX300CA

Per the video: "A laptop and tablet in one"

It's a 13-inch Ultrabook with a screen that rips off, separating into a 1,920-by-1,080-pixels tablet and a keyboard with an odd exposed hinge. Asus claims that's a "first," although it sure looks like every Android Transformer I've ever seen. Core i7, HD4000 graphics, SSD and HDD storage, 4GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0 and USB 3.0, HD front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel camera on the back. Battery life? Wouldn't bet the farm on it.

Availability: Unknown

Price: Unknown Dell Inspiron R Series

"Brushed-aluminum design/Windows 8 comes to life"

Dell's newly refreshed Inspiron R series looks a whole lot like its old R laptop series, with new 14-, 15-, and 17-inch touchscreens at the Win8-standard 1,366-by-768 resolution (1,600-by-900-pixel resolution for the 17-inch model). Each of them weighs more than five pounds. Optical drive. i3, i5, or i7 processors with separate graphics chip.

Availability: Unknown

Price: $650 for base models with touchscreens

Sony Vaio T Series 15
"Performance and mobility become one"
It looks a lot like the old Vaio T Series 15 laptops, but with a touchscreen.
Availability: Unknown
Price: Unknown

Toshiba Qosmio X875
"Performance and power for gaming and creativity/industry's first 1TB hybrid drive"
An i7 laptop with 17-inch display at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, with GeForce GTX 670M graphics processor and 3GB of dedicated graphics memory. Optional Blu-ray drive.
Availability:
Orders start Feb. 3
Price: $1,480

Vizio 14-inch Thin+Light Touch
"Built for work and play with stunning HD+ display/ultrathin unibody design"
Vizio uses AMD processors. Unique among the Windows 8 machines I've seen, Vizio advertises that it's "Microsoft Signature" -- in other words, no crapware. Bravo. Other than the touchscreen, it isn't clear to me what's changed from the old (September vintage) Vizio 14-inch model CT14-A2. It's a decent i7/HD4000 Ultrabook with 256GB of SSD. Not sure if the old 4GB of RAM maximum will apply with this new version.
Availability: Unknown
Price: Unknown, but this is Vizio, eh?

Toshiba Satellite U845t
"Balance portability ... and performance/touchscreen optimized for Windows 8" (as if the others aren't)
A true Ultrabook (20mm thick, 4 pounds) with a new 14-inch 1,366-by-768-pixel touchscreen, 32GB of SSD plus 500GB HDD.
Availability: March 10
Price: $800

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