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Windows 8 computers offer some deals and duds

Consumer Reports News: November 26, 2012 10:08 AM

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We just finished our first full Ratings of Windows 8 computers, including 23 laptops and nine desktops. The great news for consumers: We've identified Best Buys in almost every category of Windows 8 laptop, including 13-, 14-, and 15-inch models.

Among our favorite deals is a 14-inch Dell Inspiron laptop with a Core i3 processor, excellent performance, and a $630 price tag.

But you might want to wait a while before you buy: Several of the Windows 8 models we tested did not perform as well as expected, including some with Core i3 processors. The need for vendors to update their Windows 8 drivers could explain the less-than-optimal performance.

Battery life was also less than on many similarly configured Windows 7 models. We would expect that such problems will be fixed as Microsoft works out some of the kinks in Windows 8.

Disappointingly, we haven't noticed a drop in prices for older Windows 7 computers. But several Best Buys remain in our Ratings, and it will cost you just $15 to upgrade them to Windows 8. You've got to buy your new PC by the end of January, and register for the upgrade at before February 28, 2013.

Thanks to Windows 8's tablet-like interface, some manufacturers are offering convertible laptops with displays that twist around to turn a laptop into a tablet. We tested two of these from Lenovo, including the Yoga IdeaPad Ultrabook and the Thinkpad Twist. They're big and heavy for "tablets," but thin and light for a laptop. Plus, they have the advantage of running the full Windows 8 operating system.

Finally, we added Apple's MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display to the Ratings. Its screen was very good, but it's an expensive laptop at $1,700.

Check our computer Ratings for all the details on these and other new models.

Donna L. Tapellini

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