The big, wide world of Windows 8 hardware

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Microsoft's Surface RT tablet has been consuming our daily news cycles lately, but there are plenty of other manufacturers fighting for attention as we approach the Windows 8 launch day on 26 October. Luckily, Microsoft's partners (we can still call them that, right?) are all providing some truly unique and intriguing hardware options. They're not getting the attention of Surface RT, but who knows, maybe one of the following 13 machines is really the new Windows device to beat.

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The big, wide world of Windows 8 hardware

Microsoft's Surface RT tablet has been consuming our daily news cycles lately, but there are plenty of other manufacturers fighting for attention as we approach the Windows 8 launch day on 26 October. Luckily, Microsoft's partners (we can still call them that, right?) are all providing some truly unique and intriguing hardware options. They're not getting the attention of Surface RT, but who knows, maybe one of the following 13 machines is really the new Windows device to beat.

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Asus Vivo Tab RT

The Vivo Tab RT starts as a stand-alone tablet, but transforms into a hybrid device with a keyboard dock. It has a lot in common with the Surface RT, as both devices run the Windows RT operating system, which we find to be somewhat of a kludge compared to the full version of Windows 8. The unit sports a 1366-by-768 display and a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, just like Surface RT, but adds a much better camera to the mix. And thanks to its smaller screen size (10.1 inches vs. 10.6 inches), the Vivo Tab RT weighs a bit less than Surface RT - 1.3 pounds to Microsoft's 1.5 pounds (keyboards not included).

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Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

The ThinkPad Twist is just one of Lenovo's new zesty-named devices for Windows 8. This one takes on more of a laptop feel - with a twist. The 12.5-inch, 1366-by-768 display can turn 180 degrees and then close down, covering the keyboard for a tablet experience. The 3.5-pound unit (yes, heavy!) has a starting price of $850 for the standard specs, but has plenty of upgradeable options. Show off your Twist at the next office meeting and reserve your seat at the cool kid's table.

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Dell XPS Duo 12

With laptop-tablet hybrids on the rise, companies are trying to figure out the most functional and intriguing way to present two devices in a single package. Dell went with a screen that can flip on its horizontal axis to transform from an ultrabook to a tablet. The XPS Duo 12 is made of "premium materials" such as aluminum and carbon fiber to keep the transformation operation smooth and fracture-free.

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Sony Duo 11

When senior editor Loyd Case first pulled the Duo 11 out of its box, he thought it was a tablet. But after some investigating and screen sliding, the integrated keyboard was revealed. The 11.6-inch, IPS touchscreen offers a 1920-by-1080 resolution to complement the performance luxuries of a Core i7 processor. The price is a little hefty at $1,100, and the keyboard is a little cramped, but you get a nice ultrabook that thinks it's a tablet.

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Acer Iconia W700

This 11.6-inch, 1920-by-1080 device screams tablet. Note the design: no clamshell apparatus in sight. Nonetheless, the W700 has the components of an ultrabook. For extra productivity, it comes equipped with a Bluetooth keyboard and a dock that props it up to 70 degrees. The dock also does a decent job of holding up the W700 in portrait mode. Unfortunately, a high resolution on a small screen leads to tiny text, scroll bars and icons in desktop mode, making the W700 difficult to accurately use in some scenarios. Still, it's not a bad setup for $799 with some upgradeable options.

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Sony Tap 20

A small all-in-one desktop or an oversized tablet? It's really a tossup with the Sony Tap 20. The 20-inch, 1600-by-900 touchscreen looks good despite its relatively low resolution for such a large computer. A stand on the back allows it to function as a typical desktop, or it can be laid out on a flat surface to use as a large tablet. Avoid using it like a typical tablet, though. This thing weighs more than 11 pounds and is more than 20 inches wide, making it somewhat of a hassle. It may be a bit underpowered for a desktop, but at $880 it's a fun, and mobile, family PC.

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Lenovo Yoga 13

Here's another aptly named device from Lenovo. This is the larger of the two Yoga models, sporting a 13.3-inch, 1600-by-900 multitouch display and weighing in at 3.4 pounds. It initially opens as a conventional clamshell laptop, but at the point where you feel like you've pushed far enough back to break it, keep going. The entire screen folds all the way back to become a tablet device. There are a few positions in between laptop and tablet that act as convenient stands and this things can literally do the downward dog position.

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HP Envy x2

This detachable 11.6-inch tablet feels more like a conventional clamshell laptop when attached to its dock, using magnetic and physical latches to keep a firm, secure grip. However, detach it and enjoy a tablet with 1366-by-768 resolution and built-in accelerometer and gyroscope. This is HP's first dabbling in the tablet market since the failure of the TouchPad, but it looks like the company is coming out swinging.

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Dell Latitude 10

It may not win any beauty contests, but the Latitude 10 should find its way into at least a few IT workers' hearts. This 10-incher has a 1366-by-768 touchscreen and a long-lasting swappable battery for those long periods away from a charger. It will also support Dell Data Protection and Encryption, and some models will have a smart card option for extra security. Though losing it won't risk your data, leaving it on the bus is still frowned upon.

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Acer Aspire U series

The Acer Aspire U series includes the 27-inch 7600U (right) and 23-inch 5600 (left) to seemingly fit any all-in-one need. The 7600U supports 64-point simultaneous touch and can be angled from zero to 90 degrees to make a large flat surface, similar to Sony's Tap 20. The 5600U, Acer claims, is the thinnest all-in-one PC available, and can tilt from 30 to 85 degrees, allowing orientation in a portrait mode. The unit can also be mounted on a wall, allowing you to start your future-home makeover.

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Lenovo Lynx

Lenovo's got something for everyone, including a tablet with a keyboard dock. It's super thin (0.37-inch thick) and weighs a mere 1.41 pounds (not including the dock). The 1366-by-768 display measures in at 11.6 inches and uses a 1.8GHz Atom processor to run a full version of Windows 8. This may be the perfect travel buddy with 8 hours of battery life as a tablet, and an extra 8 hours with the keyboard dock.

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Toshiba Satellite U925t

Like many of the devices on this list, the Satellite U925t is hard to define. Similar to the Sony Duo 11, I would consider this a slider-hybrid. The 12.5-inch HD touchscreen slides back and reveals a spacious back-lit keyboard, transforming it from tablet to ultrabook. It comes packed with an Intel Core i5, 128GB SSD, SD reader, HDMI, USB 3.0 and a full version of Windows 8. All this at just over 3 pounds and under an inch thick.

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HP Spectre One

If touchscreens aren't really your style, you may want to look into the Spectre One. The 23.6-inch HD system utilizes a wireless trackpad to deliver the gesture and multitouch touch benefits without the fingerprints. On top of the usual all-in-one features such as USB 3.0, 802.11n Wi-Fi and the choice of a large hard disk drive or a faster solid-state drive, the Spectre One includes near-field communication (NFC) technology.

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