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Microsoft Surface and its rivals: The first wave of Windows RT tablets

The Surface isn't the only Windows RT tablet coming this year. Four others will debut over the next few months to challenge Microsoft's likely Windows tablet dominance.

Now playing: Watch this: Microsoft Surface is the best productivity tablet yet

Windows RT. I'd say it's divisive, but I don't think there's enough support in its corner to elicit much in the way of disagreement. In other words, most people either don't like it or don't understand its purpose. Or both.

If you've no idea what Windows RT is, here's a quick breakdown. It's essentially the "lite" version of Windows 8. It runs on ARM processors (cheaper and more energy-efficient than its Intel counterparts) and is optimized for Microsoft's Windows 8 touch interface. It's also incompatible with traditional Windows programs.

Sure, we've gotten insight into the reasons it was developed, but I still have problems with some aspects of its execution. Namely the Desktop interface.

Also, so far, only three of the five officially announced Windows RT tablets have actually been released, and one of the five, the Samsung Ativ Tab, won't be showing its pretty face to the U.S. market at all. The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 is the only officially announced yet unreleased Windows RT tablet.

Both Nokia and HTC Windows RT tablets have been rumored for a while, but there's still nothing official yet.

Will we see further Windows RT tablets or will the OS suffer a quick death? By "quick" I mean less than a year and by "death" I mean no other Windows RT tablets are announced in the next few months.

It's still too early to tell, so in the meantime if you're interested in a lower-priced Windows tablet, the following four are currently your only choices.

Yeah. It's bendy alright. Dan Ackerman/CNET

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11
As of this writing, the IdeaPad Yoga 11 has yet to see release, but judging from what we saw the Yoga 13 accomplish, I'm expecting a capable and somewhat innovative tablet. Read the First Take of the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11.

Does the Dell XPS 10 offer enough to set itself apart from the Surface RT? James Martin/CNET

Dell XPS 10
Don't get me wrong, the Dell XPS 10 is a fine Windows RT tablet. It just isn't much more than that. The XPS 12 set the bar fairly high and its little brother has trouble matching it. Read the full review of the Dell XPS 10.

While it isn't quite as good of a deal as Surface is, the Asus Vivo Tab has enough unique and useful features to justify your curiosity. Josh Miller/CNET

Asus Vivo Tab RT
The Vivo Tab RT brings over a lot of the features that made Asus' Transformer line so successful on the Android end. Look for a full review of the company's Windows 8 tablet soon. Read the full review of the Asus Vivo Tab RT.

Microsoft's Surface RT is the best example of what a Windows RT tablet is capable of. Josh Miller/CNET

Microsoft Surface RT
Ah, the big daddy of Windows RT tablets. Microsoft's Surface RT is the standard against which all other Windows RT tablets are judged. It's feature-rich with high levels of production pumped into it, and its Type Cover keyboard accessory is the best way to type on a tablet. The Pro version, running full Windows 8 with additional features and increased performance, will be released on February 9.Read the full review of the Microsoft Surface RT.

Looking for specs and pricing? Compare these tablets head-to-head.