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iPad 4 vs. Intel Atom Windows 8 Tablets Comparison Smackdown
      03/21/13 03:25 PM

iPad or Windows 8 Intel Atom Tablet?

Today's comparison is for you 10" tablet newbies who know the iPad is the most popular tablet on the market but are intrigued by the new Windows 8 Intel Atom offerings. It's both a likely an unlikely competition. We use the latest generation iPad with Retina display, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 and the HP Envy x2 in our video comparison.

What they Have in Common:

1) Both the iPad and Windows 8 tablets with Intel Atom CPUs have long battery life, run fairly cool and have silent fanless designs.

2) Pricing is similar, running from $499 to near $1,000 depending on the iPad 4 model you select or Windows tablet that strikes your fancy.

3) Size and weight are similar. The iPad with Retina display weighs just under 1.5 pounds, as do Windows 8 Atom tablets. The lightest 10" Atom tablets are as light as 1.3 lbs., while the 11.6" models hover at 1.5 pounds.

4) Both platforms offer a multi-touch capacitive display with a user interface that's optimized for touch.

5) The iPad and Windows 8 Atom tablets are designed to be your mobile and couch buddies for light work rather than you main PC.

Where they Differ

1) The iPad 4 is obviously one product that comes in one shape, size and form factor. Windows tablets can be pure slate tablets or transformer models with detachable keyboard docks. Some models, like the HP Envy x2 and Asus VivoTab have a secondary battery in the keyboard dock to nearly double runtimes. In fact, the HP Envy x2 works equally as well as a tablet and a small laptop in terms of design and ergonomics.

2) As ever, the iPad is the ultimate leisure machine that excels for content consumption. Streaming video, playing music, advanced 3D gaming, web browsing, email and social networking are its raison d'etre. Yes, you can buy and install an Office compatible suite with a limited set of features compared to MS Office in Windows, edit video with iMovie and update your Wordpress blog, but multimedia and entertainment take focus, largely because Apple blocks file manager style access to the system, you can't plug in a flash drive to transfer work files and there's no card slot. It has no USB port for USB peripherals. These limitations allow for a very simple to operate tablet, but one that's not as powerful as Windows for content creation and customization.

3) Windows 8 Intel Atom tablets run full Windows (this isn't Windows RT). You get the new Metro Live Tile UI and the traditional Windows desktop. You get one or more USB ports and any peripheral you can use with your Windows desktop or laptop will work with your tablet (3G dongles, printers, keyboards... you name it). There's Windows Explorer with full access to the file system and the usual administrative tool to manage your pint-sized PC in tablet clothing. You can install Windows 7 programs like MS Office and Photoshop. In fact, you can install iTunes and use a Windows 8 tablet to manage your iPad!

4) Be careful what you ask for. Windows 8's full PC status means it requires more care and feeding, from virus protection (included via Windows Defender, but you can use other programs if you wish) to Windows Update. Speaking of Windows Update, it's more automatic and less intrusive in Windows 8 and it will automatically download critical updates and bug you to reboot sometime in the next 2 days (if needed) to install those updates rather than RIGHT NOW. But it's still distracting vs. the no-maintenance experience of the iPad and Android tablets.

5) The iPad with Retina display is a fast and responsive beast. It pretty much never feels slow or lags. Intel Atom tablets aren't as fast as their full Intel Core i5 counterparts that could be your main PC. That means if you run 7 Windows 7 apps at once, the tablet will slow down. Metro UI apps from the Microsoft Store are generally fast and responsive and Windows handles memory management for those. An Atom tablet isn't fast enough to handle 3D games designed for Windows 7, but it can play the (currently) limited selection of 3D games in the Windows Store perfectly well. It's not a gaming machine, at this point. The iPad is a stellar gaming machine.

There are plenty more points to compare so hunker down and watch our video!

Here's our iPad 4 vs. Windows 8 Intel Atom tablets comparison smackdown video, comparing the iPad vs. Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 and the iPad vs. the HP Envy x2:


iPad 4 Review

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 Review

HP Envy x2 Review

Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T Review

Asus VivoTab TF810C Review

Acer Iconia W510 Review


Lisa Gade
Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview

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