Ten years ago, I bought a Handspring Visor Prism running the old Palm OS. As a handheld computing device, it was the best there was at the time. In a way, I think I've been looking for something to replace it for a long time.
Apple's iPod Touch and my Windows Phones have been the closest thing I've owned to a handheld device since. As much as I miss the ability to hold a computing device in one hand, I also missed the Stylus. The Handspring didn't have a high resolution screen or a touch optimized OS, but it had a really good stylus for the time.
There a number of new devices coming out this month, and I've been mesmerized by them. I certainly don't need something with an 8" form factor for work, this is strictly toy territory. All the same, I really want one to play with.
Dell Venue Pro 8 Inch
These seem to have hit the market earlier than the others and the reviews have been positive. The Windows button being mechanical and situated on the side opposed to capacitive and up front is really attractive. The rubberized back looks good too.
No stylus worth mentioning, if the Dell support forums are any indication.
Lenovo IdeaTab Miix 8 Inch
It's Lenovo (a good thing), and otherwise the same as the Dell. Rumors say there might be a 128 GB version offered down the road, which is a pretty mighty advantage if true.
The stylus snaps into the screen cover in this snazzy sort of way. However, it's a capacitive stylus, no better than your finger really.
Acer Iconia W4 8 Inch
It looks better than the Iconia W3, but it's still being manufactured by Acer. Looking at the rest of their line, that might be a good thing or a bad thing. It used to be I wouldn't even look at their hardware, but they make a decent Ultrabook now.
No stylus worth mentioning.
Toshiba Encore 8 Inch
Not a lot out there on this device yet.
Stylus? I've no clue.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
It looks like it's been made of cheap plastic and the camera sticks out the back slightly leaving a bump on the back side. It's kinda ugly. It's running Android, which I'm not a fan of. I haven't even used an Android device since 2.0. This device retails $100 higher than the Windows 8 tablets and has half the hard drive space.
Stylus? By all accounts, reviews, and customer feedback it is supposed to be excellent. Also, it tucks inside the device just like my old Handspring Visor.
Update: Microsoft has an Android Version of it's OneNote app, but from the reviews I've read... no pen input functionality. Boo.
Samsung is probably my only hope at this point. I've seen reports that they are building a dual booting Windows RT/Android device. My hope is that they make a Galaxy Note 8.0 device that runs full Windows 8. I'm not holding my breath as it would be more expensive and less competitive of them to do so. At the same time, they'd be filling a niche no one else has so far.
The hardest part is being patient and waiting to see what the manufacturers have up their sleeves for the Christmas season.