Laptops with Windows 8 put to the test

With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft's new operating system, a wave of laptops has hit store shelves. They're designed to take advantage of Windows' bold new design. Consumer Reports just rated dozens of the latest choices.

At a Microsoft store, one of 30 to open so far around the country, shoppers are checking out the newest Windows 8 computers. And in Consumer Reports labs, dozens of the new Windows 8 laptops have been tested too. To help evaluate displays, testers shine lights at computer screens to measure glare. Keyboards are evaluated, too. Testers assess them for ergonomics, how comfortable they are to use.

"All the new laptops take advantage of Windows 8's tablet like features, most notably the tiles that allow you to display live content or reach apps easily," said Paul Reynolds of Consumer Reports.

Some laptops can actually turn into a tablet. Testers say these convertible computers are lightweight for laptops, but fairly heavy for a tablet. Other laptops are offering touch screens. You simply tap a tile to open a program.

"In our tests we found that using a laptop with a touch screen is the best way to experience what's different and most appealing about Windows 8," said Reynolds.

One touch-screen-enabled laptop Consumer Reports recommends - Samsung's 13-inch ultrabook for $850.

But you'll save money if you get a laptop with just a traditional touchpad and no touch screen.

"Testers found that the touchpad works fine with Windows 8, but it isn't as intuitive to use as a touch screen," said Reynolds.

Consumer Reports named two non-touch-screen laptops best buys - Acer's 15-inch ultrabook for $600 and for $700, Sony's 13-inch Vaio ultrabook.

Windows 7 computer to windows 8? Consumer Reports says that option is best for people whose current computer has a touch screen. You can download the free Windows 8 upgrade assistant from Microsoft to be sure your PC is compatible.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2011. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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