A new Windows 8.1 mini-tablet emerges, and after just a short time examining the device, it's clear that this one is a contender. Similar in many ways to the Dell Venue 8 Pro, the Miix 2 also offers a pretty 8-inch screen running at 1280 x 800, Windows 8.1 "Core" with Office 2013, and the promise of decent battery life.

I'll need more time for a more in-depth comparison, but here are some first impressions.

Form factor. The Miix 2 offers the same portrait-oriented 8-inch Windows 8.1 mini-tablet form factor as the Dell Venue 8 Pro, which I reviewed last month. Much about these devices is identical or at least similar, including the basic size (5.2" x 8.5" x 0.3" for the Miix 2, vs. 5.12" x 8.5" x 0.35" for the Venue 8 Pro) and weight (.77 pounds for Miix 2, vs. .87 pounds for the Dell). The Miix 2 does feel a bit lighter than the Dell, but they're comparable.

Lenovo Miix 2 (top), Dell Venue 8 Pro (bottom)

Style. Where the Dell Venue Pro offers a nice matte black body with a grippy micro-textured back, the Miix 2 is styled like an iPad, with a black fascia and a smooth silver back with a curiously scratchy Lenovo logo. This kind of thing is obviously subjective, but I find myself leaning towards the Dell on this one.

Core specs. Much about these two devices is identical, as you'd expect. Both provide a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom "Bay Trail" processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32GB of solid state storage, though the Miix can be had with up to 128 GB of storage.

Ports. Like the Dell, the Miix 2 uses micro-USB for both charging and expansion, and Lenovo does not provide an adapter for using normal USB devices. And like the Dell, the Miix 2 provides micro-SD for storage expansion, which I consider a must. However, and like the Dell, the Miix 2 has no micro-HDMI port for video out. (There is a micro SIM card reader for those with cellular broadband needs.)

Windows button. The Miix puts the Windows button where it belongs, on the front of the device (in portrait orientation), which I prefer to the Dell's weird, non-standard location. It's capacitive and designed to only respond to purposeful clicks. I'll be testing this to be sure, but my knee jerk reaction is that this button was done right.

Lenovo Miix 2 (left), Dell Venue 8 Pro (right)

Screen. The Miix 2 appears to have the same screen as the Dell: A 8-inch IPS display running at 1280 x 800 with 10 touch points. However, Lenovo doesn't kill the quality of the display by dimming it to preserve battery life and it looks better out of the box.

Lenovo Miix 2 (left), Dell Venue 8 Pro (right)

Battery life (claimed). Speaking of battery, Lenovo claims the Miix 2 will get up to 7 hours of battery life, which is acceptable if not "great." Dell claims up to 9.9 hours of battery by comparison, and I suspect that auto-dimmed screen configuration explains much of the difference. I will be testing these head-to-head using identical brightness configurations.

OK, I'll spend some time with this device and report back what I find. My initial reaction is that Lenovo has delivered a high-quality Windows 8.1 mini-tablet. The question is whether it's a better option than the Dell, other Windows mini-tablets, and competing mini-tablets from Amazon, Apple, Google and others. More soon, but here are a few more photos in the meantime

Lenovo Miix 2 (top), Dell Venue 8 Pro (bottom)

Lenovo Miix 2 (left), Google Nexus 7 (right)