Following the Bay Trail: 5 Intel tablets to make you drool

Toshiba Encore
The Trail's warming up

If you've been keeping one eye on the current spate of smaller Windows tablets cropping up on the market, you'll know that many of them house Intel's latest Atom Bay Trail CPU.

Though you could say that the chipmaker was a little late to the mobile party, it appears to be making up for lost ground now with the diminutive processor, allowing for more portable, powerful and affordable devices that consume less power.

And they've arrived at the right time too, funnily enough. Now that Windows 8.1 has landed, Bay Trail-toting tablets will ship with a host of new features out of the box. Here are some of the ones to have caught our eye.

Acer Iconia W4

Pricing: $329.99, around £204 exc VAT, or AU$432

Acer Iconia W4

Acer's Iconia W3 attracted criticism for its appallingly bad capacitive display, but it's an entirely usable device that's also super portable when combined with its Bluetooth keyboard dock.

Love it or hate it, the W3's white bezel has returned on its successor, the Iconia W4, which has been equipped with an IPS display (1280 x 800 pixels) to widen the viewing angles to 170 degrees.

The W4's 1.8GHz Bay Trail CPU should make it nippier than its predecessor and its touted 10 hours' battery life gives it the legs to go the distance and then some.

We've not had the chance to use the W4's new Crunch Keyboard and Cover accessories, but it'll be interesting to see if they make us hungry for some marathon typing sessions.

Lenovo Miix2

Pricing: 32GB - $299, around £185, or AU$310. 64GB - £349, around £215, or AU$362


Lenovo is aiming to do things a little differently with its Miix2 slate, which bolts a hinge to the left-hand side of the device to give it iPad mini-style protection in a snap. The cover even folds over itself to form a small triangle to prop the tablet up.

It's promising to be one of the most diminutive 8-inch outings yet, measuring just 8.1mm thick, meaning you won't have to be a clown to carry full-fat Windows 8.1 around in your pocket. It weighs just 0.77lb too, which only adds to its portability.

Again, it gets a 1200 x 800 pixel-resolution display that's powered by an Intel Bay Trail-T Quad Core processor. On the negative side, we're a little cautious about a stylus pen being bundled with a device this affordable, and Lenovo's claim of seven hours of battery life falls short of the competition.

Dell Venue 8 Pro

Pricing: $299.99, £349 exc VAT or around AU$310

Dell Venue 8 Pro

Dell has entered the Bay Trail fray with its 8-inch Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet, a no-nonsense device the company is offering to business users with full enterprise support and an optional Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for rock solid security.

That's not to say that its appeal is limited to tablet-toting executives rocking up at meetings with slates up their sleeves. With an IPS display, optional HSPA+, Wi-Fi connectivity, a folding keyboard accessory and free Microsoft Office, there's a lot for anyone to like.

The tablet, which measures 8.9mm thick, also gets a 5-megapixel camera on the back, a front-facing sensor and a stylus pen, meaning you can take a photograph of yourself and draw on a big moustache afterwards. And who wouldn't want to do that? OK - just us then.

Asus Transformer Book T100

Pricing: $399.99, UK/AU pricing TBC

Asus Transformer Book T100

Whereas other entries on our list seem to offer keyboards because they have to, Asus' Transformer Book T100, as with previous devices bearing the Transformer name, makes its an integral part of the package.

The tablet itself snaps onto the keyboard, which dons a small trackpad roughly the same size as those on Microsoft's Surface Touch and Type covers, alongside a powered USB 3.0 port for charging other devices.

Its 10-inch IPS display differs slightly by offering a 1366 x 768 pixel resolution but, on the plus side, Asus is claiming 11 hours of battery life thanks to extra juice provided by the dock, making it suitable for marathon sessions on the road.

Better yet, i ts maximum 64GB of internal storage can be doubled thanks to a microSD card slot, giving you a spacious 128GB to play with.

Toshiba Encore

Pricing: $329, £249 or AU$361


Toshiba's Encore isn't really a looker - it features a similar design to the company's Excite range of devices styled with black bezels and silver plastic back panels.

It does, however, offer a range of pluses including an "instant on" feature that Toshiba claims allows it to come to life in under 300ms.

But that's not all - like the Transformer Book T100 - it features a microSD card reader that lets you bump up storage, along with dual mics, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera that's "Skype certified" for tip top video calling.