You only have to look at the tidal wave of Ultrabooks to know that Intel design specifications can carry a lot of influence with manufacturers. That's why the chip-maker's claims about its latest reference tablet, built around a dual-core Atom Z2760 processor (aka "Clover Trail"), likely give us a broad hint of what to expect from devices like the forthcoming Lenovo Think Pad 2, ASUS Vivo Tab and Samsung ATIV Smart PC.
In particular, Intel has shown us slides claiming that the dual-core 1.8GHz chip with Imagination SGX545 graphics will offer the "best Windows 8 experience" on a tablet with "compatibility and support for traditional apps and peripherals." And if you think that sounds like a subtle jibe at ARM-based tablets running Windows RT -- a version of the OS that doesn't even try to play nice with existing software -- then you could be right. To be fair though, the point of RT is to offer superior portability, and that's why Intel is also keen to emphasize that Clover Trail won't impact too heavily on your freedom of movement. Tablets should come in below 1.5 pounds (680 grams -- similar to the RT spec and much lighter than a Windows 8 Pro tablet) and 8.5mm in thickness, with built-in 3G, 4G and NFC. You shouldn't need to carry a charger either, since a new power management system promises a distinctly un-laptop-like three weeks on standby and a full day of "active use" -- defined as being at least 10 hours.
Windows 8 tablets won't be like Windows 8 Pro machines, however, so don't go expecting USB 3.0, or a guarantee of 1080p visuals (most Clover Trail devices we've seen are 1,366 x 768) or souped-up security -- the Atom Z2760 is very much an evolved Medfield processor, with similar silicon and firmware, rather than a shrunken laptop chip.
Needless to say, what really matters is how well manufacturers adopt this design and what price points they manage to hit. Intel says that at least 20 different Clover Trail tablets are already in the works, and early price tags seem to be around the $799 mark -- a hefty demand for sure, but perhaps one worth paying for those who need full-fledged Windows 8 and true portability at the same time. RT tablets, meanwhile, will have to come in much cheaper than that in order to be worthwhile.