24 Sep 2013
Microsoft has unveiled its second generation Surface tablets that are due to go on sale on October 22 just days after the updated Windows 8.1 operating system is released to general availability.
Most buyer interest in Microsoft's devices has centred on the Surface Pro, which is able to run existing Windows applications as well as the newer Metro-style Windows Store apps, and so we've drawn up a quick list of the key features of the Surface Pro 2, and some of the differences between it the original model.
Tempted customers can pre-order the Surface Pro 2 from Microsoft's Surface website, with prices starting from £719.
The original Surface is powered by a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 chip, and this has been upgraded in the Surface Pro 2 with a 4th generation Core i5 processor, which Intel launched earlier this summer.
This latest family of Intel chips, previously codenamed Haswell, offers increased performance, especially in the area of its integrated graphics, but its chief advantage is greater power efficiency when compares with the previous generation. This should translate into longer battery life, and Microsoft in fact claims that the Surface Pro 2 lasts up to 75 percent longer than its predecessor.
Meanwhile, Intel's 4th generation chips have several different levels of graphics capabilities. The new high-end Iris graphics, for example, is claimed to offer performance comparable to some discrete adapters from Nvidia.
The exact chip in the Surface Pro 2 is a 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, which can run at up to 2.6GHz with Intel's Turbo Boost technology, and which includes Intel HD Graphics 4400. This is a step up from the basic HD graphics in the previous generation, but not as impressive as Microsoft's claims about the new device might lead you to believe.
The display on the Surface Pro 2 is the same in terms of specifications as that of the original Surface, offering a full HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels in a 10.6in, 16:9 ratio (widescreen) format.
As with the original Surface Pro, the display of the new model supports 10-point multitouch input, and it comes with a digitiser pen included for handwriting and other input using the screen.
Memory and storage
While the original Surface shipped with 4GB of memory and a choice of 64GB or 128GB flash solid state drive (SSD) in the UK, the options are more diverse with the Surface Pro 2.
You can still opt for a Surface Pro 2 with 4GB of memory, combined with either 64GB or 128GB SSDs, but there is a beefier tier now available, combining 8GB of memory with either 256GB or 512GB of storage instead.
This is not the first time that Microsoft has offered more than the standard storage; when the Surface went on sale in Japan earlier this year, it was available in 128GB and 256GB versions, as well as including Microsoft's Office suite in the price.
A notable feature of Microsoft's Surface tablet devices is the kick stand, which flips out at the rear to hold the system at a convenient angle for viewing when standing on a desk or other available surface.
This also works if you are sitting using the device on your lap, but the angle of the kick stand on the original Surface Pro was not quite right for this configuration. In the Surface Pro 2 this has been fixed with a dual-stage kickstand that can be set at two different angles, one for use on a desk and another when resting on your lap.
One of the things lacking in the original Surface was an easy way to connect up to desktop peripherals, which is a key requirement if you are a business professional using the device as your chief computing client.
Microsoft has addressed this with a Docking Station that lets you slot in and connect your Surface Pro 2. As well as charging the tablet, it offers an Ethernet connection to a LAN, three USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort video out and audio in and out.
Even better, the Docking Station can be used with the old Surface Pro as well as the Surface Pro 2.
New keyboard Covers
The Touch Cover and Type Cover where essential accessories for anyone wanting to use the first generation Surface devices for heavy text entry, and Microsoft has now introduced thinner and lighter Touch Cover 2 and Type Cover 2 versions. Like the originals, these snap into place for use, and can be folded over the screen to protect it in transit.
Meanwhile, a new Power Cover offers the same typing experience of the Type Cover, but also includes batteries to extend the usable life of your Surface 2, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 by up to 50 percent.
Finally, the Surface Pro 2 will ship just after the availability of Microsoft's updated Windows 8.1 operating system and will ship with the improved platform installed.
Windows 8.1 delivers a broad range of enhancements and improvements, the most significant of which are changes to the user interface based on user feedback that make it more customisable and intuitive, plus an updated IE11 browser.
The new release also comes with updates to all of the platform's built-in apps, makes greater use of Microsoft's SkyDrive to make data available across multiple devices, plus a slew of enterprise mobility and security improvements aimed at helping organisations meet the challenges of bring your own device (BYOD) features and improved enterprise support.
27 Jun 2013
Microsoft's preview of Windows 8.1 is available to download and test now, but many users will be hard pushed to notice any difference at first glance, as a post-upgrade system presents the same tiled Start screen as before.
However, start to use Windows 8.1, and the changes start to crop up. These include tweaks to the user interface designed to improve the experience, an enhanced Internet Explorer 11, and one feature many professionals will have been waiting for: the ability to boot straight to the desktop.
On the user interface side, you can now customise the Start screen by swiping up from the bottom edge, which allows you to reposition tiles and create named groups of tiles.
You can also resize tiles, with new large (see image above) and small size tiles supported. Oddly, not all tiles support all of the sizes; we found that the mail app could not be switched to a large tile, for example.
Swiping up anywhere else on the Start screen now pulls up the Apps screen. This is reminiscent of swiping between multiple home screens on Android devices, and may have been implemented to make smartphone users feel more at home.
The lock screen can also now be customised via the Settings Charm (see below), allowing users the option to show notifications such as new emails and calendar entries. In addition, users can now choose to display a slide show of their photographs as the background.
The Apps screen shows a number of newly added apps in Windows 8.1, such as an Alarms tool, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, and Sound Recorder. These are not all consumer-oriented, with new admin tools such as a Windows Memory Diagnostic, and pretty much all the apps found in Windows 8 have also been given an update.
For those with legacy Windows applications, you can set Windows 8.1 to boot direct to the Desktop. This is enabled from the Desktop itself, by selecting "Properties" from the taskbar. Under the Navigation tab, checking "go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in" enables this (see below).
Windows 8.1 comes with IE11, which Microsoft claims has enhanced performance. It also enables you to have an unlimited number of tabs open, which you can simply tap between instantly (see below). However, this is still not as convenient as the tabs on a desktop browser as you have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen in order to see the available tabs.
IE11 also includes support for WebGL, enabling hardware support for 3D graphics acceleration in web content. We tried this out with a few WebGL-enabled sites (see example site below), and found that some worked, but not all of them.
Much has been made of the supposed reappearance of the Start button in Windows 8.1, but in reality, Microsoft has just added a Windows logo to the left edge of the taskbar, where the Start button was placed in older versions of Windows. However, tapping this just takes you to the Start screen, and does not bring up the old-style menus.
While many of the changes made to the user interface in Windows 8.1 are cosmetic, we found the overall effect is to make it feel a bit more "grown up" and less like a platform designed for kindergarten use, as the overhauled Windows Store (below) demonstrates. In fact, we would go as far as to say that Windows 8.1 is what Windows 8 should have been in the first place.
However, like with the original Windows 8 release, we found that many of the new features are not especially intuitive. For example, IE11 allows you to have two browser tabs open side by side on the screen, but it is not at all clear how you are supposed to do this. After much trial and error, we discovered you have to swipe up to show the available tabs, then hold down your finger on the one you want to appear alongside the already visible one.
In other words, while the changes in Windows 8.1 are useful and very welcome, we do not believe they are enough to convert anyone with a violent dislike for the radical user changes that Microsoft introduced with the release of Windows 8 last year.
For the last few years Korean tech giant Samsung has universally been acknowledged as top dog in the Android ecosystem. Sales of the firm's popular Galaxy smartphones and tablets constantly dominate the charts and to date it's the only firm to ever come close to matching the record breaking sales of Apple's competing iPad and iPhone devices.
However, sales of its Ativ PCs have been less impressive, with competitors like Lenovo controlling a significantly larger chunk of the PC market. Clearly unhappy with the situation, Samsung's unveiled its new Ativ Q hybrid laptop-come-tablet hoping to leverage its Android superiority to steal a bigger stake of the general PC market.
However with interest in Windows 8 still negligible it's unclear whether the dual-booting Android and Windows powered Q will be seen as an actual perk. This is especially true considering the recent arrival of Microsoft's homemade, super-powerful Surface Pro.
Measurements and weight
Samsung Ativ Q: 327x218x13.9mm, 1.29kg
Microsoft Surface Pro: 275x173x13mm, 907g
When it comes to size and weight neither the Q or the Pro are lightweight, with both weighing close to twice as much as less powerful Atom-based Windows 8 tablets. However of the two the Q is the heavier, with its physically attached slide-out keyboard making it close to 300g heavier than the Pro - even when the Microsoft machine is connected to its lighter detachable keyboard.
However, as noted in our hands-on review, the Q's increased weight does translate to pretty solid build quality and we found it was far more comfortable to type on than the Pro.
Samsung Ativ Q: 13.3in qHD+ 3200x1800, 275ppi
Microsoft Surface Pro: 10.6in touchscreen, 1920x1080, 208ppi
Samsung's made a big deal about the Q's screen claiming it is the brightest and clearest ever seen on any Windows 8 tablet. On paper there's plenty of evidence to support Samsung's claims, with the Q's larger 13.3in display boasting a 275ppi that puts the Pro's, still reasonable, 10.6in, 208ppi unit to shame.
Samsung Ativ Q: Intel Core i5 Haswell
Microsoft Surface Pro: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5
When it was first released in the US the Pro was a powerhouse device running off a top-end Intel Core i5 chip. However, having taken its sweet time to finally arrive in the UK, its powerhouse status has waned with Intel unveiling its latest Haswell line of processors just before the Pro launched. This means that the Ativ Q could well be a nippier device than the Pro.
Samsung Ativ Q: Up to nine hours quoted
Microsoft Surface Pro: 5.5 hours in V3 tests
Another added boon to Intel's Haswell line of chips is that they're far more power-efficient than their predecessors. This is a good thing as older Core i5-powered Windows 8 tablets, like the Surface Pro, suffered from battery life issues, generally petering out at around the five and a half hour mark. This is why Samsung has listed the Q as having an impressive nine hour life - here's hoping the claim proves true.
Samsung Ativ Q: Windows 8, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Microsoft Surface Pro: Windows 8 Pro
The Ativ Q is one of a select number of devices that comes with both Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows operating systems pre-installed. The device is able to dual-boot, running both OSs at the same time and can even share data between the two, thanks to some nifty software touches by Samsung. The Pro by comparison runs on the more premium Windows 8 Pro version of Microsoft's OS. It's unclear yet whether the Ativ Q will be able to upgrade to the professional version of Windows 8.
Samsung Ativ Q: 128GB
Microsoft Surface Pro: 64GB or 128GB
Storage-wise, both are available in 128GB options, though you can also pick up a 64GB Surface Pro if you want to save some cash. How much of a value proposition it will be remains unknown as Samsung is yet to reveal the Q's price. To get an equivalent 128GB Surface Pro with a keyboard costs from £899, while the 64GB model can be purchased for £819.
Raced head-to-head, on paper the Samsung Ativ Q does outpace the Pro, which thanks to a series of delays getting to the UK is fast becoming a previous generation device. Chief sins are its non-Haswell Intel processor and slightly lower ppi display. Still, given we don't know the Ativ Q's price at the moment, the upgraded tech could well come at a premium cost.
Check back with V3 soon for a full review of the Samsung Ativ Q, and read our full Surface Pro review here.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
21 Jun 2013
Windows 8's app shortage has been a sticking point for many buyers since the operating system launched late last year. For both enterprise and consumer buyers looking for a decent bring your own device (BYOD) option, the OS' marketplace has been woefully understocked when it comes to apps and has shamelessly overcharged for the select few it has.
Clearly aware of this Korean tech giant Samsung has looked to solve the problem, creating its new Ativ Q hybrid, a device that can dual boot Google's app-rich Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS alongside Microsoft's Windows 8, theoretically meaning users can enjoy the consumer perks of Android while retaining the productivity perks of Windows.
Design and build
Visually the Ativ Q looks a lot like most hybrid devices, featuring a similar design to Sony's recently unveiled Vaio Duo. The device starts off as a standard tablet, but can be converted into a fully functioning laptop, by sliding the screen back to reveal an attached hidden keyboard.
A consequence of the hidden keyboard is the Q feels significantly chunkier and and heavier than a standalone Windows 8 tablet, measuring in at 327x218x13.9mm and weighing 1.29kg. While this isn't too bad for people looking for a bespoke laptop replacement it does mean that those looking for a lightweight tablet will do best to look elsewhere.
However, during our hands-on we were impressed by how much Samsung's managed to load into the design, packing it with USB3.0, USB2.0, micro HDMI, RJ45 (dongle), HP/Mic combo and microSD ports.
We were also impressed with the Q's build quality, with its metal chassis feeling robust and the hinge connecting the screen and keyboard proving far more sturdy than those seen on most other hybrid devices. We also found the keyboard, while a little squished together, was fairly comfortable to type on with its keys feeling responsive and suitably well built.
During our hands on we did notice the lack of a full touchpad. In order to make space for the keys Samsung's opted to load the Q with a Lenovo trackpad-point ball that sits at the centre of the keyboard. While we found the trackpoint suitably responsive we know some users aren't fans of the input design, preferring the larger and more common touchpad mouse replacement. Another key design cut we noticed was the lack of a dock for the S Pen Stylus that comes bundled with the Q.
Samsung made a lot of noise about the Q's 13.3in, 3200x1800, 275ppi display, claiming it's the brightest and clearest ever seen on a Windows 8 tablet. The firm went so far as to claim the Q's screen will make the device usable in direct, bright sunlight, a feat most tablets and laptops are yet to achieve.
While we only got to test the Q in the controlled lighting conditions of the Samsung showroom floor, we have to concede our opening tests proved there is some truth to the Korean firm's claim. Testing the display we found it boasted brilliant brightness and contrast levels, great viewing angles and was far crisper than we expected.
The Q's most interesting feature is its ability to dual-boot Microsoft's Windows 8 and Google's Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating systems. The device does this automatically whenever you turn the Q on and lets you switch between the two simply by clicking on the "dual-OS" tile housed in the Windows 8 touch UI. Users can then revert back to Windows 8 at any time simply by pressing the capacitive Windows button housed on the Q's front or slide-out keyboard.
Another nifty feature of the dual-boot is the ability to actually create shortcuts to Android apps in Windows 8. The feature is a clear move by Samsung to solve Windows 8's app shortage. Testing the Q we found the transition was very smooth, jumping between the two operating systems and we're looking forward to more thoroughly testing how Android and Windows can complement one another come our full review.
The Q is confirmed to run off one of Intel's latest Intel Core i5 Haswell processors, boast 4GB of RAM and feature Intel HD Graphics 4400 graphics. This means that, while the Q won't be great at running super-intensive Windows programmes, like hardcore 3D modelling tools or games, it should still be fairly fast and cope with most general use tasks. During our hands-on we didn't notice any problems with the Q's performance with it loading and running both Android and Windows applications issue free.
Battery and storage
As well as increased power, Haswell chips are also meant to be far more efficient than older Intel processors and as a result are meant to vastly improve devices' battery lives. Because of this Samsung's listed the Q as having a reasonable nine-hour battery life. While time constraints meant we didn't get a chance to test this, if true, it will mean the Q has one of the longest battery lives seen on a non-Atom Windows 8 machine. Most competitors, like the Microsoft Surface Pro, only last on average around five and a half hours. Storage-wise the Q is set to come loaded with a 128GB SSD.
Overall our first encounter with the Samsung Ativ Q was a positive one. The Q's dual-boot feature makes it scream BYOD, having the potential to offer all the productivity perks of Windows 8, alongside Android's consumer app offering. However, there are still several key questions that need to be answered before we can know if the Q will actually make good on its potential. First is how much it will actually cost and second, is how the device will handle security - a key concern on both operating systems. It remains unclear if businesses will be able to secure both the Android and Windows operating systems without overloading the Q with multiple tools - thus eating up its modest 4GB of memory and hampering its performance.
The Q is set for release in "summer this year", check back with V3 later for a full review.
Written by V3's Alastair Stevenson
05 Jun 2013
Windows Server 2012 R2 is a comprehensive refresh of Microsoft's server platform, with advances in storage, networking, Hyper-V and across the board, according to the firm.
However, some features stand out as "game changing", according to Jeff Woolsey, principal programme manager for Windows Server Virtualisation. These include storage tiering in software, and a multi-tenant gateway to support software defined networking (SDN) in cloud deployments.
Storage tiering is an update to the Storage Spaces feature of Windows Server 2012. It creates a pool of storage from a bunch of disks directly attached to the server, with thin provisioning and resiliency provided by the file system.
In the upcoming R2 release, customers can now tier that storage using a combination of SSD and spinning disks, delivering a dramatic boost in I/O performance.
"We're taking mainstream SSDs, applying them to hard disks, and giving you phenomenal performance," Woolsey told V3.
In a demo at the TechEd conference, Woolsey showed how server with just spinning disks achieved 7400 input/output operations per second (IOPS). The same task with four SSDs added for tiering delivered 124,000 IOPs – a 16x performance improvement.
"Now you can set up a scale-out file server with JBOD storage and JBOD SSD, and deliver the same performance, resilience and fault-tolerance as a SAN at a fraction of the cost," Woolsey said.
R2 also supports deduplication for active virtual machines, which will enable customers to slash the costs of storage to support virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments.
"This has been one of the blockers to VDI – when customers actually see the cost of the storage to implement it, it just doesn't make business sense," said Woolsey.
While the dedupe is processed in software, it does not significantly affect performance, he said, as "servers are never compute bound, as most of the time they are waiting around for I/O and storage."
Meanwhile, the multi-tenant gateway extends the network virtualisation features introduced in Window Server 2012 to allow service providers to better support multiple customers in their cloud infrastructure.
"Customers want to be able to bring their network to that cloud, and to do that you need a gateway. Today, there some hardware gateways, but you have to buy the right one, and so we just provide that in software under R2," Woolsey said.
System Center is the control plane to create and manage network virtualisation and the data plane lives in Windows Server, he explained. The R2 release also extends Microsoft's PowerShell automation framework, turning it into a "fundamental building block for operating the cloud", according to Woolsey.
"If you are an IT pro, you have to have PowerShell on your resume today. You have to," he said.
Windows Server 2012 R2 will be available as a preview release later this month and set to ship commercially later this year.
25 Jan 2013
With Windows 8 out of the bag, touch computing has become 2013's hardware hot topic.
Looking to capitalise on the wave of interest, PC makers across the world are rushing out a new business-focused Microsoft-powered tablets.
This has seen the likes of Lenovo add touch capabilities to its ThinkPad series of devices and now HP follow suit, unveiling a fresh batch of touch entries into its Elite-series of devices.
However, of HP's new batch the most interesting is without a doubt its ElitePad 900 Windows 8 Pro tablet, which aims to use add-on covers to target pretty much every professional group and industry under the sun.
Eager to see how the ElitePad 900 handles, V3 visited HP at its London Showcase event to grab some hands on time with the tablet.
Design and build
As a standalone tablet the ElitePad 900 looks like most other Windows 8 tablets. The ElitePad has the same slightly curved look as many other devices currently on offer, featuring rounded edges and a grey aluminium chassis.
Also, like most other Windows 8 Pro tablets, it's a lot heavier than similarly sized Android and iOS tablets, weighing a hefty 680g despite measuring in at a reasonable 178x261x9.2mm.
However, this is to be expected considering the fact the ElitePad is running a full version of Windows 8 Pro and using powerful Intel hardware as opposed to lighter Qualcomm and Nvidia mobile tech.
In terms of ports the tablet section of the ElitePad features charge, two USB, sim and MicroSD inputs.
For those looking for more connectivity, HP's unveiled a host of expansion jackets for the ElitePad, each being designed to customise it for use within a specific industry.
These include everything from a rubberised outer case designed to protect it when being used in more hazardous conditions, like a building site, to a folding keyboard cover similar to the clip on keyboards seen on Asus' Transformer series of devices.
At the event, we had the chance to see the ElitePad's "Expansion Cover". Living up to its name, the cover expands the number of ports on the ElitePad, adding two USB ports, an SD card expansion slot and an HDMI output. The jacket comes in two pieces and is designed so that the tablet slides into the larger body, with the top clipping on to hold it in place.
Given the lack of ports on the main tablet section the jackets will prove a must for most business users - a fact that could prove a blessing and curse. While the jackets make the tablet very versatile, there's currently no word on how much they're going to cost.
The ElitePad comes with a 10.1in 1280x800 resolution display. In terms of performance this means the ElitePad's display isn't anywhere near as crisp or dazzling as the displays seen on non-Windows tablets, like the Nexus 10 and new iPad.
However, during our hands with the ElitePad we still found the display more than usable, with it boasting surprisingly good viewing angles and proving more than crisp enough for general day-to-day tasks.
Aside from this, the only issue we had with the device's screen during our brief hands on was that it only boasts five, not 10-point multi-touch capabilities.
This meant that when typing using the ElitePad's onscreen keyboard we occasionally noticed a slight delay in response - though the spokesman on hand assured us that this was only an issue with pre-production demo units and has been fixed on the release retail versions. We'll make sure we test that claim.
As well as Windows 8 Pro's core security features HP's loaded the ElitePad with its own Client Security Manager software. This includes a number of useful packages like its Credential Manager, Password Manager and Device Access Manager.
While this won't be of interest to everyone, the services will prove a boon to network managers making it far easier for businesses to safely connect and manage the device when running it on the corporate network.
The ElitePad 900 features the full version of Windows 8 Pro, running on Intel's x86-based architecture.
The machine we had our hands on with was powered by a 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2720 CPU and boasted 2GB of RAM.
During our hands on with the ElitePad we didn't get the chance to really put the device through its paces or run full benchmarks.
However, in the limited tasks we undertook, we found the ElitePad was fairly nippy and we're looking forward to getting the chance to really push the device come our full review.
Camera and Storage
The ElitePad 900 packs an 8MP rear-facing and along with a front-facing unit which HP has yet to provide the specs for. During our hands on we didn't get a real chance to test either the rear or front-facing cameras.
HP's loaded the ElitePad 900 with 64GB of internal storage, which can be expanded using the inbuilt micro-SD card slot.
From our brief time with the device, our opening impressions of the HP ElitePad 900 are positive. Thanks to its Smart Jacket offering, the ElitePad could prove one of the most versatile options for businesses.
This is especially true considering the tablet sections modest cost. With prices starting at £484 (including VAT) the tablet is just £80 more than Microsoft's Surface RT. Yet despite the minor price fluctuation the tablet offers businesses a host of benefits, the largest of which is the use of Windows 8 Pro.
Check back with V3 later for a full review of the HP ElitePad 900.
23 Nov 2012
Google may have garnered all the attention for its heads-up augmented reality project, Google Glasses, but it's not the only tech giant toying with the idea of using high-tech glasses to change the way we look at the world.
Microsoft has just been granted a patent for its very own jazzed up spectacles – and this one is aimed at the sports fans.
Researchers at Microsoft noted that those in the crowd often miss out on vital information that armchair viewers can see. For example, in NFL games, TV stations routinely display the 10-yard mark as a virtual line on the pitch.
Microsoft's device would allow users wearing its glasses to see all the live action, but have additional information displayed on the glass.
“The information is presented in a position in the head mounted display which does not interfere with the user's enjoyment of the live event,” the patent application stated.
Of course, it could look like Microsoft was jumping on the bandwagon here, especially after Google showed off its Glasses system earlier this year. But to be fair to the Redmond-based giant, its patent application was made in May 2011 – it's just taken a while to get approval.
Now let's just hope its researchers carry on building such neat gizmos, rather than letting the lawyers loose in another patent brawl.
With Windows 8 now available, PC manufacturers will be hoping to see improved sales in the coming months after disappointing figures over recent quarters, mostly as firms and consumers awaited the launch of Microsoft's new platform.
Another firm that has plenty riding on this is Intel, which has thrown its weight behind the ultrabook category of devices now entering the market as it aims to boost sales of Windows device, and Windows 8 gives it another opportunity to do just that.
So it was no surprise that the firm held an event in central London on Tuesday showing off a raft of products from its partners such as Lenovo, Dell and Acer running the platform.
V3 popped along to have a look to try out some of the devices on show.
Certainly all the devices had something to recommend them, whether the novel combinations of display options such as the Lenovo Yoga (below) with four different viewing stances: laptop, tablet, ‘tent' or as a single screen, with the keyboard used as the stand at the back.
The device itself was nice to use, with a good quality keyboard and the system responsive to both touch and mouse-based inputs.
We also had a chance to see the new Windows 8 version of the Acer Aspire S7 ultrabook (below). The device has been on the market for a while running Windows 7 and secured a four-star review when we looked at it last year.
Now it's been updated with a touchscreen system so it can run Windows 8 in full and is certainly one of the nicest looking devices on display, with a compact 13.3in screen and weighing a lightweight 1.35kg.
However, if we're talking lightweight then we should probably mention the NEC Lavie Z Ultrabook (pictured below).
Although this isn't available in the UK at present and doesn't run Windows 8 either, the device is hugely popular in Japan for one key reason; its weight. It's just 875g.
The weight of devices is always something touted by manufacturers and usually it worth nothing more than a "yes it's quite light" comment but the NEC device was probably the lightest laptop device we've ever seen; there are paperback books that are heavier.
While it's not set to come to the UK - a shame - it's a good indication of how light laptops could still become. With the portability of tablets often touted as a selling point over laptops devices like this undermine that argument to some degree.
Lastly, no product showcase would be complete without something from Dell, so Intel had brought along the Dell XPS 12 which has a rather nifty rotating screen that can be swivelled within its casing to work as either a tablet or a laptop.
This mean it can also be propped up in the "tent" style akin to the Lenovo Yoga, as pictured below.
Overall, then, it's clear there's no lack of interesting, novel and quality devices from numerous manufacturers on offer for Windows 8, with Intel's technology an integral part of that.
Whether consumers take to the new system and this helps boost flagging sales, though, is another matter.