A number of small, 8in tablets running Windows 8.1 have been made available on the Australian market this year. These are based on the latest generation of Intel's Atom CPU, and they provide a much improved user experience over the Atom-based tablets that we saw last year.
With a Windows 8.1 tablet, you basically have a full computer at your fingertips; a computer on which you could even run MS Office if you wanted to, and, of course, run many of the other programs that you might be used to. But, you will have to invest in a keyboard accessory and a stand in order to use a Windows 8.1 tablet like a regular computer.
For the most part, a Windows 8.1 tablet that's small enough to be palmed is good for Web browsing, chatting, Tweeting and other social media, watching videos from your local network, or even streaming videos from the Web.
The units we've seen so far are from Acer, Dell, and Toshiba, and they are not all the same. Here's the rundown on these three 8in, Windows 8.1 tablets, and we've ranked them to let you know which one we think is best.
1. Toshiba Encore
You can use this tablet easily for entertainment tasks, whether it's streaming video over the Web, or listening to music through a Bluetooth speaker, and it's a lovely tablet to use overall. It's a little big, and also the heaviest of the bunch at 433g, but it has a textured back that makes it easy to hold, and it includes a few useful features along the sides.
You get a Micro-USB port for charging, a combination headphone/microphone port, a microSD card for adding extra storage, and a Micro-HDMI port so that you can hook it up to a TV.
Of the 8in units we've tested, this one is so far the pick of the bunch.
Here's the full review: Toshiba Encore
2. Dell Venue 8 Pro
One of the benefits of this device is just how small, slim, and light it is (388g). It's the easiest of the three tablets to hold in the palm of your hand, and just like the Toshiba, it has a textured back that makes it comfortable to grab.
However, the slimmer profile and lightness of this unit means that it doesn't have quite as much to offer — at least externally — as the others. You get a Micro-USB port, a combination headphone/microphone port, and a microSD card slot. It doesn't include an HDMI port, which is a bit of a let-down if you want to use an external screen.
Instead, it includes things such as a TPM chip, which means it's very much pitched at the business crowd.
We like it, but it's not quite as good as the Toshiba in our eyes.
Here's the full review: Dell Venue 8 Pro
3. Acer Iconia W4
This tablet has a portrait design that includes a lip at the bottom where the hardware Windows Home key resides. It's somewhat bland looking device, but it has a few ports along its edges that are redeeming.
You get Micro-USB, of course, for charging and OTG USB sticks, a combination headphone/microphone port, a microSD card slot, and a Micro-HDMI port.
However, it wasn't always well behaved in our tests. Check out the full review for all the details about how it performed, and what we think of it.
Here's the full review: Acer Iconia W4