Discounted Windows 8 hybrids earn a second look

We reconsider several Windows 8 laptop/tablet convertibles in the wake of Microsoft Store price cuts.

Microsoft's official online store has cut prices on a handful of Window 8 devices . These systems, from HP, Toshiba, and others, are all different, but each straddles the line between laptop and tablet and falls into the growing hybrid category; you can see the current discounts on the Microsoft Store site.

With these new discounts (no word on if they are temporary or permanent), our initial reviews of these specific systems deserve a second look, if only because a big knock against each one was the unrealistic asking price.

Are they much better machines at $100 to $250 off, or are we still waiting for the perfect mix of price, performance, and design in a hybrid?


HP Envy x2 (Was $849, now $599)
The Envy x2 was already a really nice machine, if you could accept a high price tag for its lower-performance Atom processor. At $850, it was also close enough to several slick ultrabooks that it just felt far too expensive, given the clunky body with its big, ugly center button for detaching the screen. At $599, it hits the price of a budget Windows 8 laptop, and now feels like a good overall value. Verdict: The discount makes this a real contender.


Toshiba Satellite U925t (Was $1,149, now $799)
With a Core i5 processor lurking inside, the U925t is a full-featured ultrabook trapped inside the body of an experimental sliding tablet (Sony has a similar Vaio slider). The price drop puts it more in line with what similar touch-screen ultrabooks cost. But the design, while cool, never felt practical, and no price cut can change that. Verdict: That's a big price cut, but this is still probably not the hybrid for you.


Samsung ATIV 700T (Was $1,199, now $999)
Samsung's Surface Pro alternative has a solid-feeling keyboard and a laptop-like form that physically docks with its tablet upper half. It felt expensive at $1,199 -- that's 13-inch MacBook Air territory -- but consider the fact that its keyboard comes included in the newly discounted $999 price, as opposed to the Surface Pro , which starts at $899 but requires a separate $129 Type Cover. The very functional 700T is still not a bargain, but it's no longer overpriced. Verdict:At $999, it's a serious Surface Pro competitor.


Asus Taichi 21 (Was $1,299, now $1,199)
A mere $100 is just not enough of a discount, frankly, for what's still a very experimental laptop. This two-screened oddity is unique, with a second display pointing out from the back of the lid, but it was hard to use -- only one of the displays is a touch screen, and the software for controlling the dual-screen view options is clunky and clearly first-gen. For well under $1,000, it could be a fun conversation piece. Verdict: This small cut is too little, too late.


Of the discounts being offered right now by Microsoft, the HP Envy x2 feels like the one most likely to turn comparison shoppers into buyers, both because it's a significant price break, and because it's a practical PC for everyday use.

Are any of these hybrids tempting thanks to lower prices? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Read the full CNET Review

HP Envy x2

The Bottom Line: The HP Envy x2’s capacity to be a full Windows 8 tablet or dock with a keyboard works as well as advertised, provided you’re willing to live with slower performance at a high price. You’re paying for style. / Read full review

About the author

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

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