Chapter 15: What types of new computers run Windows 8?

It's inevitable that with a new operating system there are new computers released to support it. With Windows 8, there are many different types of laptops to choose from, including thin-and-light Ultrabooks and, in particular, Ultrabooks that are getting known as hybrid devices. These hybrid devices can act as both a regular laptop and as a tablet — they allow you to switch between one form factor and the other.

There are a few different designs to choose from, from tablet-cum-laptops that have slide-out keyboards, to laptop-cum-tablets that have completely-removable keyboards. There are even laptops that have screens which flip on their hinge. If you don't want a hybrid or convertible type of notebook computer, then you can opt for a regular laptop that also has a touch-enabled screen. This type of laptop looks just like a conventional notebook and can be used as such, but it also allows you to perform tasks by touching the screen. This type of laptop can't be used in a tablet form factor.

On the inside, the majority of new Windows 8 hybrid laptops have third generation Intel Core CPUs, but some models still use the less powerful Intel Atom CPU. We recommend buying a laptop with a third generation Core CPU because this will provide the best user experience in terms of speed and responsiveness, with the trade-off being a slightly bigger form factor than Atom-based devices. Atom-based devices should provide more battery life as they have much lower power requirements.

The majority of new hybrid laptops and tablets also use solid state drives (SSDs) rather than conventional mechanical hard drives. SSDs are faster, less prone to damage, more power efficient and lighter than their mechanical counterparts, but the downside is that they offer a smaller capacity — and higher capacities are currently quite expensive. Of course, USB 3.0 ports, and in some cases Thunderbolt connections, are available for external storage devices, so you can easily access higher capacities when you are at home or in the office. Furthermore, data can be stored and accessed through cloud storage services such as Microsoft's own SkyDrive or Google's Drive.

The screen on most new hybrids is based on IPS (in-plane switching) panel technology, which is a technology that affords wider viewing angles than traditional (and less expensive) TN (twisted nematic) panels — up to 170 degrees. This is key for hybrid devices that can also function as tablets. You want a screen that is viewable from as many angles as possible since you'll be rotating the screen sideways and upside down in tablet mode, and you'll want those angles to be as wide as possible. IPS technology offers these capabilities and this is why the technology has been implemented. When shopping around for a new hybrid notebook, or even a conventional one, try to make sure you buy one with an IPS panel, which will provide the best results (IPS panels also look great on regular laptops).

Sensors that can provide location data, as well as accelerometers that are used to change the screen orientation, can also be found in new hybrid devices, which will be useful for all manner of apps that require GPS or movement-based data. You can also expect some laptops to have more of a focus on voice activation features using Nuance's Dragon voice recognition software. The first Ultrabook to have this technology, which will enable you to search the Web, as well as perform other tasks using only your voice, is Dell's XPS 13 Ultrabook.

New all-in-one desktop PCs with touchscreens will also be available with Windows 8 pre-installed on them. In many cases, these new models will fold all the way down so that you can use the touchscreen in a more natural manner, rather than holding your hand up to the screen, which can be uncomfortable. Vendors say that the new designs will allow for apps such as board games to be played on the screen, and they are pitted as being a more family-oriented option than a regular computer. Sony has also developed an all-in-one that runs on a battery and which can easily be moved from room to room without wires and placed on the ground to facilitate this type of interactive usage more easily.

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Previous chapter: How do I get Windows 8?

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