By PETER SVENSSON, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Can't decide if you want a PC or tablet? Now you won't have to. With the release of Windows 8, computer makers are doing their best to blur the boundaries with an array of devices that mash keyboards and touch screens together in different ways.
Some of these configurations are new, while others have appeared and disappeared on the market since at least 2002, when Microsoft Corp. released Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.
Microsoft says it has certified 1,000 devices for use with Windows 8 and its sibling operating system, Windows RT. The two systems look the same, but under the hood, they're quite different.
Windows RT runs only on machines with the type of lower-energy, phone-style chips used in iPad and Kindle tablets. That makes for cheap, thin and light devices with very long battery lives — more than 10 hours. But those devices won't run any programs written for other versions of Windows. In fact, they can run only applications downloaded directly from Microsoft's online store, in a setup borrowed from Apple and its iPhone.
The ability of Windows RT devices to connect to peripherals such as scanners and printers is also limited.
Here's a selection of the devices that went on sale Friday or will hit stores over the next few months:
CONVERTIBLES — These are the Transformers of the bunch. They run Intel chips and may look like staid laptops at first glance, but one way or another, they convert into tablets.
Toshiba U925t — To convert this laptop into a tablet, push the 12.5-inch screen back, then slide it over the keyboard with the display facing out. Available now for $1,150.
Sony Vaio Duo 11 — Similar to the Toshiba but smaller, the folding mechanism on this model leaves no room for adjusting the angle of the screen. There's no room for a touchpad, either. Instead, there's a touch-sensitive "nub" in the middle of the keyboard that lets you guide the cursor. The 11.6-inch screen also works with a stylus. Available now starting at $1,100.
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Twist — Like all ThinkPads, the Edge Twist is a business-focused machine. This one incorporates a mechanism that's been in use in tablet computers for at least a decade: The 12.5-inch screen connects to the base with a swiveling hinge. Flip the screen around, then fold it over the keyboard to turn it into a tablet. Available now starting at $849.
Dell XPS 12 — The 12.5-inch screen on this laptop is hinged inside its frame. It can be flipped around so the screen faces away from you, then folded over the keyboard for tablet mode. Sound original? Dell has actually tried this design before, for a 2010 laptop. Starts at $1,200, with an estimated ship date of Nov. 15.
Lenovo Yoga 11 — This 11.6-inch screen goes back — way back. You can push it so far back that it's flat with the underside of the laptop. Now you have a tablet with a screen on one side and a keyboard on the other. Luckily, the keyboard turns off when you fold the screen back, so you can hold the device. Unlike most convertibles, which run on standard Intel chips, this one uses Windows RT and a processor from Nvidia. Available in December for $799.
WINDOWS 8 TABLETS — These slates run Intel chips and regular Windows software. Computer makers are hoping they'll find a home among businesses that need employees to access their work applications while commuting or traveling, but they're also hoping to entice consumers.
Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T — This tablet, with an 11.6-inch screen, looks much like a small laptop when docked into a keyboard base. The combination also folds up just like a laptop. Available now for $650. The keyboard costs another $100 and contains an additional battery to extend the workday.
Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx — Similar to the Samsung model, the Lynx goes on sale in December for $599. The keyboard will cost another $149.
Hewlett-Packard ElitePad 900 — A 10-inch tablet aimed squarely at business users, the ElitePad is paired with "Smart Jackets" that extend its capabilities with extra battery life, a keyboard, a stylus or memory-card slots. Available in January at an as-yet undisclosed price.