Back in September, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) launched its Bay Trail series of Intel Atom processors, bringing more powerful hardware to the growing market of Windows 8 tablets and devices. Though it's only been a month since the launch, a number of new tablets featuring Bay Trail processors have already been spotted, and ten more are already on the way in November. When you look at the hardware powering these new tablets, as well as the low manufacturers' prices, it becomes clear that the Intel Bay Trail processor, coupled with Windows 8.1, could be a winning combination for tablet buyers this coming holiday season.

New hardware that's faster & cheaper
Bay Trail is a big deal, not just because it's a big upgrade in hardware since last year's processors, but also because Intel is selling Bay Trail for less than it was selling its previous series, Clover Trail, late last year. Based on price data released by Intel, the retail price of the newest Bay Trail processors is between 10%-22% cheaper, depending on the model. This cost reduction comes with a new processor series that is twice as fast as last year's Clover Trail, has a GPU three times more powerful, supports USB 3.0, and can still support all-day battery life between 11-18 hours. 

It's fair to note that tablet makers Intel and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) made a lot of mistakes last year with Windows 8, alongside the weak hardware performance of Clover Trail. Many criticized Clover Trail for being too slow for Windows 8, or its more powerful Ivy Bridge processors being too taxing on the battery. Still, during the rocky start for Clover Trail and WIndows 8, Microsoft was still able to nab 4.5% of the global tablet market, according to Strategy Analytics. That may not seem like much, but it's up from just 0.5% the year before, showing that this market share consists almost entirely of new users.  

Now that the performance issues behind the Intel processors appear to be resolved, while still offering long battery life, there's a good chance that Windows tablets can gain more market share this holiday season, especially considering how cheap the tablets are compared to last year.

Tablet prices are lower than ever
So far, only a few tablets have launched featuring the new Bay Trail processor, so there isn't much data about shipments or sales yet. However, just looking at the prices of these new tablets, compared with the prices of last year's models, shows a lot of potential for these new devices.

Here's a quick table showing off the launch prices of popular Intel Atom tablets & hybrids last year. These prices were what the base model would cost, including a keyboard dock if it had one sold separately:

2012 Device


HP Envy X2


ASUS Vivotab TF810 


Acer W510 


Lenovo Lynx


Now, let's take a look at some of this year's Bay Trail-powered tablets and hybrids, and the retail prices that have been announced, including if they have a keyboard dock sold separately:

2013 Device


HP Pavilion 11 X2


Dell Venue 11 Pro

$500 (plus dock) 

ASUS T100 


Toshiba Encore


These prices are much lower compared to last year's Clover Trail tablets. This is impressive, especially considering the fact that HP is selling its new successor product for 30% less, and ASUS is selling its successor for 45% less! Don't forget that the iPad and iPad Mini are nowhere near these products in price when you consider the minimum 32GB storage capacity. Even with minimal publicity about these new tablets, consumers seem willing to invest in the new, cheap Bay Trail-powered tablets.

All the signs of a strong launch
Long story short, there's no reason why Intel, Microsoft, HP, and Lenovo can't have a very profitable holiday season selling their Windows 8 tablets, with much thanks to the new Bay Trail processor. In a market where the PC continues to struggle, Microsoft and Intel have been in need of a stronger foothold in the tablet market. Intel's Bay Trail looks like it will be the foothold these two companies need, and the low prices they've set with manufacturers to launch these tablets seems to suggest a very strong launch of Windows 8.1 tablets in the coming weeks.

Joshua Sherman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.