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The Windows world already has a few iPad Airs of its own

Mark Hachman | Oct. 24, 2013
With the introduction of the iPad Air, Apple has changed the game once again. "Thinness" is once again the watchword, and every upcoming tablet will be compared against Apple's thinner, lighter tablets to see if they measure up.

Of course, the Surface tablets were designed for productivity apps, and creating content on the desktop, not for squinting at a James Patterson ebook aboard a moving bus. And even though at Tuesday's press event Tim Cook took shots at everything from Microsoft's convertible tablet strategy to its Office 365 subscription, Apple failed to deliver its own versions of Microsoft's Touch and Type Covers, effectively ceding the productivity space to Microsoft. So there.

A new crop of mini Windows tablets, just in time
But block out that Apple Reality Distortion Field for just a second. There's a whole new crop of Windows tablets that perform just as well, and for far less money than Apple charges.

Take Dell's Venue Pro, an 8-inch tablet that weighs just 0.87 pounds. Just slightly larger than the redesigned iPad mini, the Venue Pro weighs just 0.14 pounds more than Apple's junior tablet. You know what else weighs about 0.14 pounds? A CD inside a CD case. You can lift a CD without any problem, right?

Did I mention that the Dell Venue Pro costs just $299? With 32GB of storage, the Dell Venue Pro costs about half what Apple charges for the $499 32GB iPad mini. From this perspective, at least, your buying decision is a no-brainer.

You want alternatives? Sure. The Lenovo 8-inch Miix tablet is even more appealing, weighing in at just 350 grams (0.77 pounds). That's just barely heavier than the iPad mini. And at 8.35 mm, it's only 0.85 mm thicker than the iPad mini, too.

The Dell Venue Pro, Lenovo Miix and the new Acer Iconia W4 are all powered by Intel's "Bay Trail" chip, a power-sipping chip with performance aplenty. Can the iPad run Team Fortress 2, like a Bay Trail chip? If it can, I'd certainly like to see it do so.

If you're irreversibly wedded to the Apple ecosystem, I can see picking up one of the new iPads. But for any number of purposes—reading an ebook via a Kindle app, taking gaming with you on the go, surfing the Web—a Windows tablet serves just as well, and for a lot less  money. Yes, Apple fanatics will point to the zillions of apps within the iTunes Store. But for those of us who have settled on a few, choice apps that we run every day, buying one of the new thin, light Windows tablets will likely do just as well for a lot less.

Save your money. Don't buy into the hype.


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