Cheap Windows 8 PCs
Earlier this year, Microsoft began to offer a variant of Windows 8.1 to PC vendors at a special, super-secret price that is rumored to be “practically zero.” This “Windows 8.1 with Bing" license has brought a crop of low-cost PCs to the market. Here's the scoop, and what you need to know about the Bing thing...
Bing, Yes. Bling, No.
The license for “Windows 8.1 with Bing" specifies that it can be installed only on “low-cost” machines and its default search engine, Bing, cannot be changed prior to sale. This cuts the cost for PC vendors by $50-$80, so many are responding with a number of Windows 8.1 devices whose prices may look unbelievable. Here are a few of these low-cost machines:
Toshiba’s $120 Encore Mini tablet is about as “basic” as a Windows 8.1 device gets. Its 7-inch, 1024x600 display covers a 1.83GHz Intel Atom Z3735G processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. It comes with a micro-USB 2.0 port, a 0.3MP front-facing camera, a 2.0MP rear-facing camera, a microSD card slot, and a battery rated for 7.3 hours. It won’t win any prizes for speed, but it’s adequate for Web surfing, social media, and many apps. Bundled apps include a year’s worth of Office 365 Personal, Amazon Kindle for PC, and Netflix.
Acer has announced the Iconia Tab 8 W tablet which starts at just $150, less than half the base price of its predecessor, the Iconia W3. The Tab 8 W includes an Intel Atom Z3735G quad-core Bay Trail processor, 1GB of RAM, and an 8-inch, 1,280x800 display. It includes a year’s subscription to Office 365 Personal. The Intel® AtomTM Z3735G quad-core processor “responds promptly,” the press release says. When “promptly” is the best a PR agent can do, my guess is there's some concern about performance. Dual cameras and a microUSB port are included. An optional keyboard is available to make it more laptoppy. The Tab 8 W will be in stores by November.
But I Want a Real Laptop...
If you're not comfortable with a tablet, no problem. Good old clamshell laptops are also getting the Windows 8.1 with Bing treatment. Microsoft is taking aim at Google Chromebooks with these “neo-netbooks,” as the stripped-down, very affordable products are already being called.
Asus pioneered the netbook, and now they're resurrecting it with the tiny EeeBook X205 notebook, priced at $199. The X205 has an Intel Atom Z3735 processor with 2GB of RAM and 32 GB of flash storage. The 11.6-inch display has a 1,366x768-pixel display. Connections include 802.11n WiFi, a micro-HDMI port, a microSD slot and two USB 2.0 ports. The X205 is slated to be available in early Q4.
The HP Pavilion 10Z ($250) is one of few Windows 8.1 with Bing laptops that features a touchscreen. It’s powered by the low-cost AMD Mullins processor which is designed for power-saving mobile devices. The 10Z includes 2GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, and the 1,366x768 10.1-inch touchscreen.
The Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 and the Satellite CL10-B will be available "globally" during the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the company. Both come with 11.6 inch HD display at 1366 x 768 pixel resolution, one HDMI port, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 and an SD card reader, 802.1 b/g/n WiFi adapter, and Bluetooth 4.0. Stereo speakers and HD webcam with built-in microphone are in there, too.
The Satellite Radius 11 comes with either an Intel Celeron or Pentium processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB hard drive. Its flexible display can be twisted into five different positions. It will debut about $539. The Satellite CL10-B is based on an Intel Celeron processor with 3 GB of RAM and only 32 GB of internal storage. However, it includes 100 GB of OneDrive cloud storage space as well as a year’s worth of Office 365 Personal. It will launch at about $325.
The skimpy storage options on some of these tablets and laptops is possible due to a specification called WIMBoot in the "Windows 8.1 with Bing" package. WIMBoot allows Windows to run directly from the compressed image file previously used for System Restore image files. This shrinks the space required for the operating system files by about 30 GB, but slows things down a bit.
Whether low-cost, low-performance Windows 8.1 with Bing machines can compete with Android tablets and Chromebooks remains to be seen. But if Microsoft goes after Google’s low-end market, prices will remain low.
Will you buy a low-cost Windows 8.1 PC this fall? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 22 Sep 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Cheap Windows 8 PCs (Posted: 22 Sep 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved