In Pictures: The Best of Windows 8 Hardware (So Far)

Microsoft hardware partners -- and Microsoft itself -- have some serious hardware waiting in the wings for the arrival of Windows 8. Here's a visual tour of upcoming Windows 8 tablets, ultrabooks and tablet/ultrabook hybrids.

Microsoft tablets and ultrabooks

Here Come Windows 8 Tablets and Ultrabooks

At Computex 2012 earlier this month, Microsoft partners such as Acer and Asus showcased some buzz-inducing Windows 8 tablets, ultrabooks and hybrids. And then Microsoft itself dropped a bomb on the tech world by announcing its own branded tablet, The Surface. Here's a look at the best Windows 8 (and Windows RT) hardware you can expect to get your hands on when the OS launches this fall.

Microsoft surface tablet

Microsoft Surface Tablet

Microsoft took matters into its own hands by announcing Surface, a Microsoft-branded tablet running Windows 8 Pro or Windows 8 RT. It is designed to go head to head with the Apple iPad and it does have features that the iPad lacks such as Microsoft Office applications, a built-in kickstand and a thin screen cover that doubles as a fully-functional keyboard when opened. Its screen is also 1-inch larger than the iPad. Time will tell if Windows 8 and the Metro UI catch on with consumers enough to compete with the mighty iPad.

Asus Taichi

Asus Taichi

This lightweight Windows 8 ultrabook-tablet hybrid sports a head-turning feature: back-to-back HD screens that appear on both sides of the display panel. The screen on the outside of the lid is typically turned off when the device is in laptop mode and then activated when the lid is closed so it looks like a tablet. However, both screens can be on while in laptop mode if the user chooses. In addition to running Windows 8, the Asus Taichi is expected to use Intel's new Ivy Bridge processors. Screen size options will be 13.3 and 11.6 inches.

Samsung Series 7 Slate

Samsung Series 7 Slate

The Samsung Series 7 Slate is one of the few Windows 7 touch-screen tablets that didn't fade to oblivion and is in a good position to transition to Windows 8 when it launches. For a tablet, the device is heavy at two pounds. But it does boast a big screen (11.6"), 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. It is available now running Windows 7, but any Windows 7 PC purchased between now and January 31, 2013 is upgradable to Windows 8 for $14.99.

Asus Tablet 600 and 810

Asus Tablet 600 and 810

Asus unveiled these two tablets at Computex earlier this month, and both models have been the most talked-about Windows 8 tablets (at least until Microsoft's Surface tablets came along). However, there are some key differences between the two models. The tablet 600 will run Windows RT and will use ARM-based chips (Nvidia Tegra 3) and the 810 will run Windows 8 and be powered by Intel Atom chips. The 600 sports a smaller 10.1-inch screen, compared to the 810's 11.6-inch screen. Both have 8-megapixel rear cameras and support for a keyboard dock.

Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook

Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook

It's not all tablets in Windows 8 land. The ultrabook category is still alive and well and starting to utilize touch-screen features. The ultra-light Acer Aspire S7 (coming in two sizes, 11.6 and 13.3 inches, both weighing just over two pounds) will be at the forefront of Windows 8 touch-screen ultrabooks. The S7 will have a full HD (1920 x 1080) touch screens and 0.5-inch thick chassis. If you don't fancy touching your laptop screen you can always use the Aspire S7's backlit keyboard and touchpad.

MSI Slider S20

MSI Slider S20

MSI may be known more as a maker of netbooks and gaming machines, but it has an early Windows 8 ultrabook/tablet contender with the Slider S20. The S20's 11.6-inch touch-screen display pushes back and then slides forward and locks into what looks like a tablet. It is made of plastic so metal and aluminum snobs may be turned off. But it is running Intel third-generation "Ivy Bridge" chips and the sliding mechanism has been getting good reviews for being smooth and sturdy.

Acer Iconia W510 tablet

In addition to its Aspire S7 ultrabook, Acer also has two tablet models on deck for the Windows 8 release, the Iconia W510 and W700. Pictured here, the 10.1-inch Iconia W510 boasts a convertible, HD touchscreen and will be powered by an Intel Atom processor. You can use as a traditional tablet, or dock it on a detachable keyboard, where you can rotate the screen almost 360 degrees. The dock contains an extra battery so when the W510 is docked it will be good for 18 hours of battery life, according to Acer.

Acer Iconia W700 tablet

Acer Iconia W700 tablet

The Iconia W700 serves as big brother to W510 with an 11.6-inch HD (1920 x 1080) touchscreen that comes with a docking cradle and built-in kickstand for different viewing angles. Unlike the W510, the W700 dock does not double as a detachable keyboard; it is primarily used to position the tablet -- an external keyboard will need to be added via Bluetooth. The tablet itself does have an impressive array of connections such as Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 and micro HDMI.

Asus Transformer AiO Desktop/Tablet Hybrid

Asus Transformer AiO Desktop/Tablet Hybrid

Asus is hoping that bigger is better with the Tranformer AiO desktop/tablet hybrid, arguably the biggest tablet you've ever seen at 18.4 inches. The tablet component can be removed from the base station – though I wouldn't expect great battery life on a screen that large.

But there's an even bigger twist.

When docked, the Acer Transformer AiO will run Windows 8 (and an Intel Ivy Bridge processor), but when removed from the dock, it switches to Android. The Transformer AiO is reportedly a prototype, and the final version will enable Windows 8 in tablet mode.

Asus Transformer Book

Asus Transformer Book

The Asus Transformer Book is another powerful Windows 8 tablet running on Intel's third-generation Core i7, i5, and i3 "Ivy Bridge" processors and discrete Nvidia graphics, with 4GB of RAM. Like other Windows 8 tablets, the Transformer Book includes a detachable full-size keyboard so it can serve as an ultrabook when attached. The Asus Transfomer Book also stands out because of its HD IPS display size options, available in 11.6, 13 and 14 inches.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga is a 13.3-inch convertible ultrabook/tablet hybrid that's been building buzz for months. The Yoga's display can be flipped around and bent over backward to become a tablet, potentially giving users the best of both worlds. It's pretty much a Windows 8 ultimate warrior, combining the power of an ultrabook (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) with the elegant touch of a tablet. And it won't come cheap, with an estimated price of $1200.

Like all of the machines in the slideshow, the Yoga's availability is beholden to Windows 8, scheduled to launch in October.