When it comes to tablets, we’d wager that most Maximum PC readers lean toward the x86 variety—in theory, at least. Right? It’s the more capable, more flexible option—the natural fit for computer nerds. In fact, with specs that rival an Ultrabook’s, an x86 tablet promises to serve as the ultimate production/consumption device, leveraging Windows 8’s dual persona to optimum effect. We haven’t had face-time with Microsoft’s x86-based Surface Pro standard-bearer—ironically, the company seems uninterested in getting its product in front of these power users—but we do have the Acer W700, an extreme tablet in its own right and a worthy representative of what this new tablet category has to offer.
Note: This review was originally featured in the May 2013 issue of the magazine.
Don't expect a powerhouse slate in this price range
How low can tablet prices go? Apparently under a Benjamin. As tablet makers dance the low-price limbo, consumers benefit from a bevy of affordable slates to choose from, even from name brand vendors. In this case, it's Hewlett-Packard that reportedly plans to build and sell a $99 tablet at Walmart as back-to-school shoppers flood the stores preparing for another school year.
Perhaps the No. 1 reason to buy a mobile device direct from Google is so that you can receive timely updates to new Android builds rather than wait around on a third-party hardware maker and your wireless carrier to get with the program. As it were, Google today announced the next incremental version of Android, version 4.3. It's still Jelly Bean, which means Key Lime Pie is still somewhere on the horizon.
The latest news, our picks, your questions, and Gordan's rant!
This time around it was a full podcast room as we tackled the latest industry developments, including the future of our very own magazine. First up Deputy editor Gordon Mah Ung kicked off a discussion on AMD's 5GHz CPU and its position in the enthusiast market, then Editor in Chief Katherine Stevenson dished on the rumors surrounding the Microsoft Surface refresh, and finally Associate Editor Tom McNamara opined on the state of the PC industry. We closed Edpisode #207 of the Maximum PC Podcast with some tablet talk, tons of reader questions, our editors' picks, and Gordon's signature rant.
Failed Surface RT strategy costing Microsoft millions of dollars
Remember when Acer tried to warn Microsoft to steer clear of competing in the hardware market, telling the Redmond outfit that the hardware business is like "hard rice" and "is not so easy to eat?" Well, Microsoft should have listened. That's easy to say on hindsight, but it's not as if Microsoft's strategy wasn't fraught with criticism from the get-go. Having ignored the advice of Acer and other hardware partners who weren't stoked about Surface, Microsoft is now paying the price.
Surface RT now available at a more reasonable price
On hindsight, Microsoft overestimated the demand for its ARM-based Surface RT tablets and the willingness of consumers to pay $500 for an unproven slate. What made Surface RT an even tougher sell at the original asking price is that Android slates have been getting much more affordable in recent months. Stuck with all that stock, Microsoft is reportedly planning to slash $150 off the price of Surface RT.
EA Labels president Frank Gibeau has raised a few eyebrows by suggesting that the next generation of tablet devices will catch up to the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Xbox 360 in the graphics department. While the potential is there, we have a hard time imagining such a scenario when tablet makers are so focused on delivering lower cost devices, though maybe Gibeau knows something we don't.
As a consumer, you have to love price wars, so long as both companies competing for your dollars stay in business. Right now there's a price war brewing between Barnes & Noble with its Nook HD and HD+ tablets, and Amazon with its Kindle Fire HD tablets, the latter of which is now on sale starting at $169. This is a temporary price cut and if you're a Prime member, you get free 2-day shipping to boot.
A cheap Android tablet from a name brand manufacturer
Asus just threw the gauntlet down by launching its low-price Memo Pad HD 7, a 7-inch Android tablet that's surprisingly feature-rich for the money. The MSRP is listed as $149, the same as the original Memo Pad 7, but this time around you get quite a bit more for the money, not the least of which is an upgrade from a 1GHz single-core chip to a quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz.
You'd have to stick your head under a rock the size of Kansas to miss the current trend towards mobile devices, and it's certainly true that OEMs (save for Lenovo) are getting hammered by slumping desktop and notebook sales. But just like Rocky Balboa, it would be a mistake to count traditional PCs out of the fight. In fact, desktops and notebooks combined will continue to outpace tablets through this year and next, according to Gartner.