Ever since Windows 8 was announced to have ARM support, there has been a ton of speculation around what this means for the PC/tablet world.
Some of the theories suggest ARM will get heavily involved in the desktop/laptop market now, others that Windows tablets will ONLY use ARM processors.
In fact, many users have been swiping up older W7 tablets that run on x86 processors so that they have an upgrade path to Windows 8 that will still give them full legacy support (something you won’t get with ARM).
While not all users need legacy applications on the tablets, for many business/enterprise users and even ‘power users’, this is a handy thing to have.
Luckily according to DigiTimes, Acer and Lenovo are both preparing to launch tablets in 3rd quarter 2012 that run off Intel’s Clover Trail platform.
For those who don’t know, Intel is also preparing to launch the Medfield processor that is aimed at Android-based devices for the first half of 2012, but unfortunately Medfield doesn’t perform as well or save as much power as ARM-based competition.
This is something that some are hoping gets fixed with the Clover Trail platform.
If Clover Trail is really capable of delivering even close to the power savings abilities of ARM, isn’t super hot and requires a thousand fans, and still maintains a decent amount of speed it could certainly be a great tablet option.
The biggest downside to x86 tablets has always been that they consume more power, weigh more, and are louder thanks to more fans in order to keep them cool.
If this was no longer a problem, x86 tablets would finally have much wider appeal. They would offer a very similar experience in both design, weight, and power consumption to ARM, but would also have support for all past Windows drivers and programs which would be a useful addition.
Of course even if Clover Trail turns out to be capable of offering something close to ARM efficiency (which I have my doubts), it will likely come at a price.
Such an x86 Clover Trail tablet will likely hit a price tag of well over $1000. As for ARM Windows 8 tablets? They will likely hit somewhere between $250-$600.
So should users wait off until Clover Trail if they are interested in an x86 Windows-based tablets? Not necessarily.
Even with the cost of upgrading a Windows 7 tablet over to Win8 it will likely be cheaper than a next-gen x86 Windows 8 tablet.
If you don’t mind a little more bulk, a little more noise, and at least a few hours less of battery life, than x86 Windows 7 tablets are still a great upgrade option that allows you to prepare for Windows 8 and even test out the BETA in February.
I would bet the farm that we will hear more about Clover Trail and its potential at the upcoming CES, and so by then you will have a better grasp as to whether or not you should wait for an x86 tablet or grab a Windows 7 tablet now.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Windows 7 tablets get another slash-down sometime in mid-to-late 2012 in anticipation of Windows 8 tablets, though I could be wrong.
What do you think about Clover Trail? Will Intel be able to deliver what it promises?
Additionally, should users that want an x86 tablet wait until Clover Trail options or jump on board now?
Share your thoughts below.