Windows 8 tablets and PCs begin to trickle out

Contrary to what you might have read, many Windows 8 computers are available now, with several more to come

It's become fashionable of late to echo Craig Berger, an analyst with FBR Capital Markets, who said early demand for Microsoft's Surface RT tablet has been "disappointing." Blame for the general Windows 8 sales malaise, according to Berger, lies in the fact that of the dozen-plus new tablets promised for delivery with Windows 8, only five are available in the United States right now.

That just isn't true.

Right now you can buy hundreds of new PC models with Windows 8 pre-installed. They're Windows 7 machines with Windows 8 slapped on the side: no touchscreen, old designs, hot, heavy, and battery impaired.

But I'm not talking about those Windows 8 machines. I'm talking about tablets, Ultrabooks, notebooks, netbooks, dockables -- however you want to define them -- that are fully capable of running Windows 8 or Windows RT. They have touchscreens, at least 1,366-by-768 resolution displays, and enough oomph to move the Windows 8 or Windows RT bits around. They may not be optimized for Windows 8 (your definition of "optimized" may vary from mine), but they're perfectly serviceable.

Let's take a look, starting in the Microsoft Store.

In the Windows RT camp, you can buy a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, ($499 + $119 for keyboard/cover), of course, as well as the Asus VivoTab RT TF600T ($599, no keyboard, but there's an offer for a free Asus Mobile Dock).

On the Windows 8 side of the fence, there's the Acer Iconia W510-1674 ($499, no keyboard, but Acer makes a dock). Also from Acer, the Acer Aspire S7-391-6822 runs an Ivy Bridge Core i5 ($1,299 Ultrabook). Lenovo has the ThinkPad Twist Convertible Ultrabook, which also runs Ivy Bridge Core i5 ($899 Ultrabook). Sony's Vaio Duo 11 rounds out the list, with an Ivy Bridge i7 ($1499, Ultrabook). It's listed as "out of stock" on the Microsoft site, but the i5 version ($1,199) and i7 version are available on Sony's site.

Moving on to manufacturer's sites, I see these Windows 8 computers are available: The Dell XPS 12, with its signature wire frame ($1,199, trapeze) is available on the Dell site; the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 ($665 with integrated keyboard after $184 online discount) runs Windows RT; and the Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T ($749, docking keyboard extra) runs Windows 8, and it's available from many retailers. Similarly, Toshiba's Satellite U925T-S2300 Convertible ($1,149, Ultrabook) can be acquired from many retailers.

Other manufacturers have laptops that, while not particularly Windows 8 savvy, sport touchscreens and should be able to handle Windows 8 reasonably well in a luggable and battery-challenged way -- HP's Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook 15t-4000 or Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4t-1100, for example. Of course there are dozens of all-in-ones that can handle Windows 8, but they're hardly luggable, and I cringe every time I think of a 27-inch screen filled with Metro tiles.

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