Check out the next generation of laptops, desktops, and components that will be driving PCs in spring 2013.
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S
The original 13-inch Yoga seemed to be everyone's choice for a great Windows 8 ambassador during the new OS' launch last year -- both Microsoft and Intel touted it as a best-in-class example, and Best Buy featured it in a television ad. Shrinking the idea down to an 11-inch system creates a product that, in tablet mode, feels a lot closer to an iPad than the 13-inch convertible/hybrid laptops we've seen.
With both the iPad and iPhone more recently updated than Apple's other tent pole -- the MacBook laptop and Mac Pro desktop lines -- we may see some design and hardware revisions times to the launch of Intel's next-gen Core i-series CPUs (also known by the codename Haswell). The MacBook Pro with Retina Display has Air users hungry for higher-res screens, and the powerful Mac Pro desktop feels especially ready for an overhaul -- it got a minor spec bump last year, but still sports the same design as the 2010 version.
Last seen at CES, HP's slim, sexy laptop-tablet transformable looks like it will pack newer Intel processors and take the next step towards incorporating Lenovo Yoga-level style into the business sector. It impressed us a few months ago, but the final price tag could potentially damper our enthusiasm.
The Razer Edge is, in a sense, just a Windows 8 tablet with Nvidia graphics. But it's also more than that: a variety of accessories and docks can transform the Edge into a handheld gaming device, laptop-like hybrid, or a TV-connected PC gaming console. It's that versatility, more than the Edge's portability, that makes it such an intriguing proposition. Even though the add-ons can get costly, the core price of the Edge remains more affordable than Razer's hyper-expensive Blade laptop. Is it more of a PC than a tablet, or is it both? We'll find out soon enough.
Dell's XPS 18 is only the most recent desktop/tablet hybrid to come out of hiding. What this system has going for it over competitors from Sony, Lenovo, and Asus is a slim profile and a simple concept. Simply unplug the 18.4-inch XPS 18, and it becomes a sub-5-pound tablet running full-blown Windows 8. It's thinner than the Sony Vaio Tap 20, lighter than the 27-inch Lenovo Horizon, and easier to use than the Asus Transformer AIO that asks you to juggle both Windows 8 and Android. Dell also promises about 5 hours of battery life with the XPS 18. That and its relative portability might even make this system a true mobile desktop.
Lenovo has the most ambitious take on the desktop/tablet hybrid device in its 27-inch, battery-equipped IdeaCentre Horizon 27. The idea is that not only can you move the Horizon from room-to-room, but also that its giant screen and custom touch input software create a robust multi-user interactive platform. Lenovo demonstrated the Horizon with a host of accessories at CES this year, including a rolling stand, interactive dice, and a full-blown coffee table add-on (sadly just a concept). It's fair to ask whether anyone wants that kind of computing experience, but if the computer itself is competitive with nonportable big-screen all-in-ones, what do you have to lose?
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Tabletization has swept over the Windows-Intel world this past year, which explains why Intel has pushed so hard for improved power and thermal efficiency in its fourth-generation Core CPUs, code-named Haswell. Rumors have pegged a June release for the first Haswell-based systems, which should bring more-powerful, more-portable Windows 8 laptops, desktops, and hybrids. The big question, though, is whether a next-gen CPU from Intel will spur consumer demand for Windows 8.