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In Pictures: The new breed, Windows 8 PCs that innovate

These eight next-gen tablets and laptops show a new spirit of innovation in PCs

  • Hey, Martha: These aren't just Apple wannabes It's a sad commentary that today's advanced laptops (aka Ultrabooks) are basically just retreads of the three-year-old MacBook Air. With Windows 8 shipping this week, we're seeing more retreads: Typical laptops with a touscreen and iPad-like tablets with attachable keyboards. Can't the PC market innovate on its own? Yes, it can. And the eight PCs highlighted here do so. Some are tablets, some are laptops, and most are both (so let's call them laplets).

  • Lenovo ThinkPad Twist Remember when the IBM ThinkPad was the cat's meow of laptops? It may gain that status again, thanks to the Twist. Its universal-joint connector lets you swivel and fold the screen in almost any direction, making it easy to use the Twist as a tablet, laptop, or presentation device. Expected ship date: October 26-30, 2012 Base model: 1.7GHz Core i5, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, 12.5-inch screen, 3.5 lbs., Windows 8. Other configurations will be available. Base price: $899

  • Asus Taichi Most laplets have you reposition the screen to switch between laptop and tablet modes. Not the Asus Taichi. It has two LCDs: One on the inside of the cover and one on the outside, so you always have a screen to work with. Expected ship date: October 26-30, 2012 Base model: 1.7GHz Core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 11.6-inch screen, 2.8 lbs., Windows 8. Other configurations will be available. Base price: $1,299

  • Acer Aspire S7 One thing people really like about tablets is that it is easy for everyone to see the screen in a presentation or meeting, as the device lays flat on the table. The Acer Aspire laptop provides that same show-and-tell capability through its lay-flat hinge. Expected ship date: October 26, 2012 Base model: 1.7GHz Core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 11.6-inch screen, 2.3 lbs., Windows 8. Other configurations will be available. Base price: $1,199

  • Hewlett-Packard ElitePad 900 with Productivity Jacket HP's ElitePad 900 is just another iPad-inspired Windows tablet -- unless you also get a Productivity Jacket to go with it. Slip the ElitePad into the jacket, and you now have a laptop with a keyboard and additional expansion ports. Take the ElitePad out, and you have a lightweight tablet. Expected ship date: January 2013 (tablet); spring 2013 (jacket) Base model: 1.8GHz Atom, 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD, 10.1-inch screen, 1.5 lbs., Windows 8. Other configurations will be available. Jacket: Keyboard, USB, HDMI, MicroSD, battery slot; weight unknown. Base price: Not determined

  • Microsoft Surface with Type Case Microsoft shocked the PC makers when it announced this summer it would ship its own tablet. Like most PC tablets, it looks very much like an iPad. What sets the Surface apart is the optional Type Case, a cover that has a physical keyboard embedded in it. (Like Apple's Smart Cover, Microsoft's Type Case is available in multiple colors.) Expected ship date: October 26, 2012 Base model: 1.4GHz T30, 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD, 10.6-inch screen, 1.5 lbs., Windows RT. Other configurations will be available, including Windows 8 models at a future date. Base price: $499 (tablet), $130 (Type Case)

  • Dell XPS 12 Dell Computer's XPS 12 remids me of the Olympics -- gymnastics, specifically. That's because its screen rotates within its frame, so you can put it in nearly any position imaginable for showing the screen to others. There's nothing else like it. But as my colleague Serdar Yegulalp has discovered in his hands-on use, it's easy to pinch your finger between the frame and screen as you move the screen. (His fingers show the contusions!) Expected ship date: November 12, 2012 Base model: 1.7GHz Core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 12.5-inch screen, 3.4 lbs., Windows 8. Other configurations will be available. Base price: $1,199

  • Toshiba Satellite U925t Toshiba has its own take on making a laptop covert to a tablet. The Satellite U925t's screen slots into a groove on the computer to display as a laptop, and it then slides out and folds flat into a tablet-style display. Expected ship date: October 26, 2012 Base model: 1.7GHz Core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 12.5-inch screen, 3.2 lbs., Windows 8. Other configurations will be available. Base price: $1,150

  • Panasonic AX Available only in Japan, the Panasonic AX has a wraparound hinge that lets its screen fold completely against the underside of the laplet, putting into into a tablet-style configuration. Expected ship date: October 26, 2012 Base model: 1.7GHz Core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 11.6-inch screen, 2.5 lbs., Windows 8. Other configurations will be available. Base price: Not determined

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