If you’re looking for a cheap laptop, this is the year for you thanks to a 3-way horse race between Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Microsoft’s New Laptop Challenges Mac Book Air, Google Chromebook
Laptops are back in after having gone unloved the last few years as people fawned over tablets. Today it’s the tablets that are old news.
ARTICLE: Clark’s tablet buying guide
The expectations of what you get with a laptop have changed over time. Laptops are all about productivity. Tablets are used primarily for content delivery, meaning they’re basically just play machines.
That’s really stratified the market. At the top end, you have the Mac Book Air for a street price of anywhere from $800 to $1,000. It’s a superior device with decent battery life that offers quick entry to the Internet. But that price range is stratospheric.
The big gap at the lower end is being filled in by Google’s Chromebook and a new entry from Microsoft.
Chromebooks initially were lame, but now they’re fantastic. They’re simple, fast, and cheap. $199 buys you a very good Chromebook. They have decent battery life, you can get on the Internet quickly, and they’re easy to travel with.
Microsoft has been forgotten through all of this. At a time when they needed a big hit, Windows 8 was an unmitigated disaster. So now they’re trying again with the HP Stream laptop for $199.
The HP Stream is built to do the kind of things an Air or Chromebook does, but it gives you a Microsoft Office subscription for a year for free. By doing that, it gives you the ability to use programs even when not connected to the Internet.
The key thing to know is the price point gap between Apple and both of these very good competitors is gigantic. We’re talking $800 vs. $200!