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.

Proudly sponsored by Trend Micro

Previous chapter: How do I get Windows 8?

Next chapter: Microsoft Surface

Go back to the index

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Elias Plastiras
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?