As predicted, Microsoft is emerging as one of the headline acts of IFA 2012, despite the US tech titan playing no direct role in the proceedings over here in Berlin.
The Washingtonian firm is instead grabbing the limelight by way of its upcoming OS duo, Windows 8 and the closely related Windows RT. More specifically, the new-generation operating systems are featuring in a wide range of the computing hardware being unveiled this week.
Getting ahead of the game today was Asus, who kicked off the expected Windows 8 windfall with a double salvo of sparkly new tablets featuring the latest Microsoft software. Following a sneak peek earlier in the year at Computex, the Vivo Tab and Vivo Tab RT were officially unveiled to Europe this afternoon, with the devices being shown off to full effect by the Taiwanese firm over the course of a three hour event.
The first thing that struck us was that the clunky Tablet 810 and Tablet 600 monikers previously attached to the devices have been ditched in favour of some slicker marketing. But the commencement of Asus' IFA campaign wasn't just a PR coup: a fuller picture of the devices' specifications emerged today, and they look like pretty impressive beasts.
At 10.1in, the Vivo RT is the smaller of the two tablets and seems pitched more at mobile entertainment needs. Featuring a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset and Super IPS+ technology, it should be a stellar performer from a multimedia perspective.
The Vivo Tab, on the other hand, is a more enterprise-angled device, amounting to a full-on Windows 8 portable workstation. Sporting next generation Intel Atom hardware in the engine room, it also boasts 10-point multi-touch complemented by Wacom digitiser stylus tech for high-precision on-screen writing input; and for ace sound, it comes equiped with the same SonicMaster technology used in Asus' notebook line. Both devices feature 2GB RAM, a 1,366 x 768 resolution display, and arrive NFC-ready.
Crucially, both the new contraptions feature mobile docking capability. Asus demonstrated the ease with which it possible to transform the tablets into a notebook-style device, with the portable dock that can be deployed with both the Vivo Tab and Vivo Tab RT looking sturdy yet flexible.
Central to the transformer act is the QWERTY keyboard that the two hybrid gadgets come equipped with - in addition to a slick typing interface, it also rocks a trackpad, two USB ports and a second battery for extended use away from central power supplies. In a way, it seems as if Microsoft is teasing its fanbase ahead of Surface's launch later this autumn - if the Asus products look this hot at IFA, just how good is Microsoft's foray into in-house hardware going to be?
It's all very heartening stuff for consumers hungry for choice this Christmas. Judging by today's display, Asus isn't content just to regurgitate its popular Transformer Pad concept, even if the products launched today are inspired by it to a large degree. Rather, it seems to want to actively progress the philosophy behind the Transformer range, and swapping Android for Windows 8 with the Vivo line is a telling move. Like many others, we can't wait to play around with the Vivo duo when we get our hands on the devices.
Stay tuned, as we hope to bring you close-up photos of Asus' latest tablets following our visit to the Taiwanese firm's booth later in the week - it was a bit of a scrum at the media event today, but rest assured we're making it a matter of priority to seek out the Vivo pair this week.