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GALLERY: 7 Compelling Windows Devices from CES 2014

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Microsoft's hardware partners have unveiled a slew of innovative devices running Windows 8.1 during this year's Consumer Electronics Show. We gathered some of the more interesting ones in this gallery.

The overall buzz at this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is not around computers, but if you bring that many OEMs to one show, you're bound to come away with some interesting designs. The ecosystem surrounding Windows 8.1 got a boost in early 2014 with new devices. Here are some of the most compelling.


ORIGIN PC GENESIS and MILLENNIUM

Who says the desktop tower PC is dead?

Not ORIGIN PC. The Miami-based computer maker, with its roots in gaming, debuted a pair of corporate-focused models at CES: the MILLENNIUM (pictured left), a mid-tower PC, and the GENESIS, a full-tower version.

The chassis are beautiful in a gaming kind of way, with a view of the internals, custom paint options and the ability to change the PC's lighting color on the fly. ORIGIN's differentiator for these PCs is a feature it calls Variable Mounting, which allows for mounting the motherboard in four orientations.

There's a standard mount with components stacked horizontally, or a 90-degree mount with components stacked vertically for better airflow. Then both standard and 90-degree mounts can be inverted, which means the motherboard is reversed so the window into the components fits on the other side of the box. In a further fit of customization, those who buy the mid-tower MILLENNIUM can upgrade to a GENESIS with a full-tower expansion kit.

These high-performance PCs don't come cheap, starting at about $2,000 with configuration options running much, much higher.

In an era when no one talks about business desktop customization anymore and all the focus is on ultramobiles, it's refreshing to see someone running full speed in the other direction.


Hewlett-Packard Z1 G2

HP continues to carry the torch for all-in-one systems based on Windows 8.x. The company's CES introduction is a second-generation device called the HP Z1 G2. This one has a 27-inch touchscreen that reclines to various angles, including flat on its stand.


Panasonic Toughpad 4K

Panasonic introduced a tablet with technology that makes you say, "Whoa!" and a price tag that makes you say, "Double whoa!" (And that second one is in the negative sense.)

The device is called the Toughpad 4K UT-MA6 tablet. It's a 20-inch tablet with the 4K resolution display that's all the rage at CES. If 4K means little to you, it means roughly four times the resolution of Full HD. A Full HD display offers 1980x1080 pixels. The new Toughpad's LCD screen is 3840x2560 pixels at 230 pixels per inch and a 15:10 aspect ratio.

As a resolution standard, 4K is starting to appear in screens now, but there aren't many movies or other types of video content available for the format yet.

Other features include an optional Panasonic Electronic Touch Pen that Panasonic claims can interpret "more than 2,000 levels" of pressure.

Now for that pricing. Panasonic plans to release two models of the Toughpad 4K. A standard edition, announced previously, will be available in February for $5,999. The performance model unveiled at CES, with a better processor and GPU, is slated for a spring release and a list price of $6,999.

Given the price tag, Panasonic is positioning this tablet as a professional workstation for those in visual-intensive fields such as computer-aided design and video editing.


Toshiba Tecra W50

So we know a very high-end 4K tablet from Panasonic will cost at least $6,000. How much will a 4K laptop cost? Toshiba should give the industry an answer in the next few months.

The company unveiled two 4K-display laptops that will be coming in mid-2014 -- a 4K version of the Tecra W50 (pictured) and a Satellite P50t. Both will sport 15.6-inch displays with 3840 x 2160 pixels at 282 pixels per inch. Early indications are that the Tecra W50 will be aimed at visual-intensive field professionals, while the Satellite P50t will be more of an entertainment device.


Lenovo MiiX 10"

Last fall, Lenovo introduced a MiiX 8" ultraportable Windows 8 convertible. At CES, Lenovo beefed up the line with some slightly larger models. The new devices are the MiiX 2 10" (pictured) and the MiiX 2 11". Both are what Lenovo calls "three-mode" laptops.

With a detachable keyboard, the MiiX can be used as a tablet, a laptop or in a "Stand Mode" for viewing video or photographs.

The 10" ultraportable version will be available in March starting at $499, while the performance-oriented 11" model is set for April availability with a starting price of $699.

The MiiX 2's were among a plethora of new devices Lenovo introduced at CES. The PC giant also refreshed the Yoga and Flex lines and brought out a ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook as well as the ThinkPad 8 convertible tablet.


Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1

Even after standard notebook PCs stopped being cool, Panasonic Toughbooks still had an aura about them. Panasonic is continuing that tradition with a new mini-tablet that both looks fun when it's sporting the brightly colored Windows 8.1 tile-based display yet is also designed to endure an epic beating.

The latest device is the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1. It's very small for a Windows tablet, with a 7-inch screen, a thickness of 0.7-inches and a weight of 1.2 pounds.

Panasonic's ruggedness claims for this Toughpad include an ability to withstand a five-foot drop, shock, vibration, altitude, humidity, extreme temperatures, rain and dust.

As many of its use cases involve outdoor work, the Toughpad FZ-M1 features a daylight-readable display with an anti-reflective treatment, and the touchscreen is designed for use with thick workgloves.

Like many Panasonic products, the Toughpad doesn't come cheap. When it's available in the spring, the list price is set for $2,099 with the Intel Core i5 vPro processor. Among many optional upgrades are a stylus and a high-capacity battery that doubles the base battery's claimed life of eight hours to 16. Both battery types are swappable and can be switched out without powering down the device.


ASUS VivoTab Note 8

This has to be the kind of device Bill Gates had in mind when he started talking about Windows tablets more than a decade ago.

ASUS used CES to show off a mini-tablet called the ASUS VivoTab Note 8.

This is a light, mini-tablet with a stylus, eight hours of claimed battery life and full-fledged Windows 8.1 (as in, not Windows RT). Yet, like the Windows RT tablets, it will come with Office Home and Student.

Specs include an Intel Atom Z3740 processor, 2 GB of memory, up to 64 GB of solid-state storage, a microSD card slot, a digitizer stylus, a 1280x800 pixel display, a 5 MP rear camera and a front-facing camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Miracast and a Micro USB port.

ASUS isn't saying what the device will cost or when it will be available.

More from CES 2014:

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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