Yesterday Microsoft announced the final roster for ARM based Windows RT tablets expected to launch this year. We'll see Windows RT tablets from ASUS, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung, as well as Microsoft itself with Surface. Those who aren't listed either opted to go x86 exclusively (e.g. Acer) or simply won't have a Windows RT device in the first round. Microsoft is trying to exercise more control over its partners with Windows 8, with hopes of boosting the overall quality of launch devices. Powering these tablets will be NVIDIA's Tegra 3, Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 or TI's OMAP 4 SoC. Thanks to ARMv7 ISA compatibility across all three SoCs, only a single build of Windows RT is needed to run across all Windows RT tablets.

The OS is final as of now, but there's still a lot of work being done on drivers. I don't expect to see anything resembling final drivers until early October. That being said, Microsoft did share a bit of early data about the first Windows RT tablets:

Windows RT Launch Tablet Specification Range
  Min Max Apple iPad (2012)
HD Video Playback at 200 nits 8 hours 13 hours 11.15 hours
Connected Standby 320 hours 409 hours -
Battery Capacity 25 Wh 42 Wh 42 Wh
Screen Size 10.1-inches 11.6-inches 9.7-inches
Weight 520 g 1200 g 652 g
Length 263 mm 298 mm 241.2 mm
Width 168.5 mm 204 mm 185.7 mm
Height 8.35 mm 15.6 mm 9.4 mm

The only battery life specs that Microsoft shared unfortunately came with very little information. Thankfully MS specified the brightness setting (200 nits, oddly compatible with our own tablet battery life tests) but not the workload in particular. I added the 3rd gen iPad to the tablet above to draw a rough comparison, but with things like battery life it's difficult to make an accurate comparison without knowing all of the details from Microsoft's tests. The rest of the specs show a fairly wide range of devices, starting at something that's much thinner and lighter than the current iPad and going up all the way to something that's more notebook like.

It's disappointing to see a lack of commentary on battery life stressing more than just the video decode logic on the SoC and display. I'm also interested to see how Atom based Clovertrail Windows 8 tablets stack up against these Windows RT devices in terms of battery life and performance. If Atom based Windows 8 tablets can deliver a comparable experience there, and are comparably priced (which seems to be the case based on what I heard at Computex), then the choice between RT and Atom based Windows 8 tablets may boil down to whether free Office or legacy compatibility matter more to you.

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  • Braumin - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    It's silly to show they are going to have a range of devices at launch? OK then I can see you are just trolling.
  • MartinT - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    It would have been silly for Microsoft to set the four design limits I mentioned earlier.

    Thanks to you, I now understand those numbers to be the range of devices partners have actually come up with, rather than guidelines from Microsoft to design to.

    Which brings me back to this table being useless, because taking the min/max on any spec from a range of devices might be nice from a statistics point of view, it's meaningless to a consumer who will have to compare the complete devices against one another, and each device has its own, discreet set of specs somewhere within the range this table lists.
  • sigmatau - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    LOL! Apple is shaking awake from a nightmare.

    Thanks for your nonanalysis.
  • vasanthakumar - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    To knockout APPLE is very difficult in mobility...
    But Microsoft must not should not get tired.....
    Microsoft popularized PC with their cost effective approach.
    So wannbe gadget holder (price senstive) looking for cost effective tablets. Microsoft please understand and satisfy the desire.

    Microsoft must give a lot product value and gives tough compettion to both Apple and Android devices...
  • secretmanofagent - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Nobody's pointed out the maximum weight a device can be as 1200g, which is 2.65 pounds. I'm guessing this would be for a laptop form-factor possibly, but dang.
  • frostyfiredude - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    Lenovo's Yoga RT probably, it did seem rather chunky in both weight and thickness looking at the chart, but with a KB it makes sense. The RT version is supposed to be 11.6" too.
  • Braumin - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    It's not the max weight a device can be, but the maximum weight of a device that will be available at launch.

    They are just saying they have devices from X to Y that will be available at launch. I am not sure why no one is grasping that - perhaps the table needs to be more clear.
  • costea310d - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    i believe that the new brains at amd will come up with some game starter apus. they already have a master plan for x86 apus, and, behold, for arm apus. wait, i am not done yet, they might come up with hybrid arm-x86 socs. all these apus and socs will be very very powerful, some of them , the ones, will be 64 bytes compatible , and will eat very little energy. ... be it that amd will still be arround that long ...

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