Before you buy a Windows tablet or convertible laptop/tablet hybrid, it's important to know the differences between the two touch-friendly operating systems, as outlined in this Productopia blog post. In a nutshell: Windows RT tablets only run the new Windows 8 apps while Windows 8 tablets and convertibles offer the complete Windows experience, complete with a desktop mode that supports classic Windows programs.
All Windows tablets emphasize productivity prowess, and that's their main point of differentiation against Apple's iPad. Windows RT slates ship with the full Office 2013 RT software installed, and early models offer detachable keyboard docks to increase typing efficiency when it's needed. The biggest complaint with the first wave of these devices is the general dearth of Windows apps in Microsoft's Windows Store, which greatly limits Windows RT's functionality.
Microsoft's own Surface with Windows RT (*Est. $500 and up) is an early favorite thanks to its sturdy and attractive industrial design, which includes a kickstand for propping the tablet up during productivity bursts. The sharp IPS display and abundant connectivity options also win praise. Reviewers highly recommend spending the extra cash to buy the Surface with an innovative Touch Cover keyboard (*Est. $600), which CNET calls "the best way to type on a tablet, period."
The Asus VivoTab RT (*Est. $600 and up) is the Surface's strongest competitor; it's priced higher, but that includes its keyboard dock. Critics say the VivoTab RT is a solid option with a long battery life and a vibrant IPS display, but the lack of a native USB port and a touchpad that doesn't support Windows 8's touch gesture controls make the Surface a better all-around buy.
Windows 8 convertibles are another beast entirely. Most offer a full Windows 8 experience and a design that more closely resembles a laptop, albeit one that can convert into a tablet when needed. The only early favorite is the Dell XPS 12 (*Est. $1,200 and up). Experts say it's a top-notch Ultrabook first and foremost, complete with powerful and responsive performance accompanied by a stellar keyboard and trackpad.
Rotating the sharp, vibrant, 12.5-inch 1,080p display in its bezel and then closing it transforms the laptop into a large-screen tablet. The screen's multitouch technology works great, reviewers say, although the Dell XPS 12's 3.35-pound frame feels much heavier than a traditional 1.5-pound tablet. However, it's still light for a laptop.