We were warned that Windows RT tablets wouldn't be cheap, and those warnings have now been confirmed. The Asus Vivo Tab RT, formerly known as the Tablet 600, is now available for pre-order for $599.99 from online retailers including Staples, Newegg, TigerDirect, and FutureShop. That's only for the 10.1-inch Tegra 3 tablet computer itself, mind you, as the keyboard docking station required to turn it into a genuine Transformer (and double the unit's battery life) will cost an additional $200. TigerDirect has a bundle with both the tablet and keyboard for $799.99, while Staples is offering what appears to be a discount on the keyboard, selling it for $169.99. Newegg says the tablet will be released on October 26th, while FutureShop in Canada is estimating November 2nd availability.

The Vivo Tab RT's sticker price may say a lot about what Microsoft is charging for Windows RT, because the Asus hardware is otherwise a rehash of the Android-based Transformers we've seen before. While the Vivo Tab RT does have 2GB of memory, double that in the Asus Transformer Prime, it has the same Tegra 3 processor, just a slightly higher density 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 1366 x 768 IPS display, and 32GB of solid state storage as that $499.99 tablet. Meanwhile, the new Transformer Pad Infinity does indeed cost the same $599.99, but there you get a full 1920 x 1200 display and a faster 1.6GHz processor for your extra dollars.

Compare this: Asus Vivo Tab RT vs. Transformer Pad Infinity, Transformer Prime, and more!

Of course, Windows RT isn't really trying to compete with Android, it's trying to challenge Apple's iPad by bringing Windows productivity to the low-power tablet realm, and this device starts $100 higher than the latest iPad as well. Unless buyers agree that Microsoft's OS is worth the premium, Apple may prove a fearsome incumbent.

Update: We originally listed the Vivo Tab RT's screen resolution at 1280 x 800 based on specifications listed by certain retailers. This is incorrect. The device actually has a resolution of 1366 x 768.