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8/19/2014
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HP's $199 Windows Laptop: Chromebook Killer?

Leaked specs show what a budget-friendly Windows device might offer. Is it enough to stem surging Chromebook sales?

Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You
Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

In July, Microsoft previewed HP's Stream, a $199 Windows 8.1 laptop, but little else has been said about the device. Support documents posted online have revealed the Stream's specs and given the market its first sense of what a $200 Windows PC might offer.

The Stream will run Windows 8.1 with Bing, one of several free and low-cost Windows licenses offered to OEMs. Microsoft introduced the new options in an effort to make Windows devices more affordable and to stem rising sales of Google's Chromebooks. With a price that undercuts most similarly sized Chromebooks (often by more than $100), the Stream could help Microsoft's cause. But recent Chromebook momentum makes the issue far from certain.

Even though the Stream isn't yet available, HP -- perhaps inadvertently -- posted a maintenance guide for the device. First spotted by MobileGeeks.de, the guide documents the Stream's specs and components, which are headlined by an AMD A4 Micro-6400T quad-core processor clocked at 1.0 GHz and a Radeon R3 integrated graphics chip.

[Windows 8's struggled, but Microsoft might be primed to rebound. Read Windows 'Threshold': 7 Things to Expect.]

InformationWeek asked HP to confirm the specs listed in the guide and reveal when the device would be available. An HP spokesperson told us the company currently has nothing to share about the device, other than that it is working on a family of Stream products that run Windows.

According to the guide, the Stream will feature a 14-inch non-touch display with 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. It will come with either 32 GB or 64 GB of flash storage, 2 GB of RAM, a 720p webcam, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, and a HDMI connector. The guide also indicates that Microsoft will offer Stream owners 100 GB of free OneDrive storage for two years.

When the device hits the market, it will be cheaper than most Chromebooks, which have become enormously popular in the education sector and are starting to show mainstream traction. Earlier this month, Gartner predicted Chromebook shipments will reach 5.2 million units this year, and almost triple that number by 2017. As InformationWeek's Thomas Claburn pointed out, that total -- 14.4 million units -- would be only around 2 million less than the number of Macs Apple sold last year.

Still, not everyone is persuaded that Chromebooks are poised to break out. Earlier this summer, Techaisle analyst Anurag Agrawal told InformationWeek contributor Kevin Casey that Chromebooks' ultimate popularity depends on a range of unanswered questions, including whether IT will embrace the devices as thin clients and how Google and its partners advance the "cheap-and-simple" ethos under which Chromebooks launched. HP's rep stated that the company is dedicated to providing customers a range of operating system choices.

Agrawal also said Microsoft could shake things up with a "Bing book"-- more or less what the Stream is expected to be. But that doesn't mean manufacturers will abandon blossoming Chrome-based lineups while they try out Microsoft's new offering. HP, for instance, produces a range of Chromebooks.

Last October, HP CEO Meg Whitman characterized Microsoft as a rival, and began hyping Windows 7 PCs once it became clear Windows 8 devices were not in high demand. Given this backdrop, if the Stream doesn't sell well, HP might continue to invest more resources in Google platforms.

Then again, HP has already invested in one other budget-oriented Windows 8.1 device -- the $250, touch-equipped Pavilion 10z notebook, which launched in July. It's likely HP and other PC OEMs are simply playing the field until the market for budget computers shakes out.

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 4:24:10 PM
Re: win win
kstaron,

How far back did you purchase your last Machine?

LOL!

Just asking because the price you seem to be quoting seems like a long way back!

This phenomenon of Deflation in Prices of these Electronics is happening at a time when cost of most of their Overheads is going up[Chinese Wages are rising at Double Digit Rates,Rare Earth Metals are rising in prices,Oil is extremely expensive,Electronic Parts like RAMs,etc].

Its only because of aggressive competition in the midst of a Declining market (Smartphones are eating their lunch basically).

See how few of the Major PC makers have successfully made the Transistion to the smartphone area today-Apple,Lenovo,Samsung are the only three names that stand out.

How will this pan out?

Effectively,some major vendors are going to go bust.

That's the only way this is going to reach a more sustainable situation in the near future.

Regards

Ashish. 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 4:18:29 PM
Re: Battery Life?
rradina,

Sure the Processor seems under-powered but then you also must accept that these are not going to be High-Performing Gaming machines .

The idea is to do all the Basic Stuff which I am sure these devices will do very well.Also,you can't neglect the fact that because Notebooks tend to have more Space(at Motherboard level) ,Heating is less of an issue as well as Space.

Your experience with HP Machines is'nt surprising.I gave on them long-long back because of their Useless Customer Service.

It also does'nt help that they are firing people left,right and Centre today to keep the Markets(and Executive Compensations) happy;So most Employees tend to be extremely de-motivated.

Anyways,Lets see what kind of machines they deliver here.

Its very much Wait and watch for now!

Keeping my fingers crossed.

Regards

Ashish. 

 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 4:12:16 PM
Re: Sounds great, but........
Laurianne,

That maybe so [What attracts Consumers to Apple]but I am sure you must have also noticed that Most Ordinary Americans are struggling today from paycheck to paycheck.

In such a sceanerio,Does it really make any sense to Splurge so much more on an iSomething Gadget when you can always get another device that does basically the same thing for a much-much lower price?

Most of Under 35 Crowd today is obessisively focussed on Debt reduction(thanks to the massive Education Loan burden they carry) and splurging so much more of your hard-earned Money(if you do have a job that is) on such a Device makes little fundamental sense.

Lets not forget that 44 Million Americans are on Food Stamps today.

Even most Educational Institutions (as well as Governments) would Love these devices (in Bulk) if they do everything that is required of them effectively enough.Can't see them splurging their cash strapped Budgets on excessively expensive iSomethings...

Regards

Ashish.
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
8/29/2014 | 4:52:10 PM
win win
It may not matter matter in the long run if the chromebook or the 'bing' book win out. That fact is still you can get a computer for not quite pocket change but not a serious amount of cash either. The last desktop computer I bought I could choose between the computer and an old beater of a car. now its the choice between a computer and a tricked out stereo for your car. It's a win win for the consumer.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
8/26/2014 | 8:38:25 AM
Battery Life?
What's the battery life?  Regarding the AMD processor, 1Ghz might feel slow.  Like Intel, do the AMD processors have "turbo" modes that allow them to overclock when the load warrants a boost?  Two of my sons have phones with 2GB RAM and quad-core ARMs clocked @ 2.2Ghz.  1Ghz seems inferior to Intel's Atoms which are surprisingly agile with Win8.

 

My confidence in HP is also waning.  A few weeks ago my son purchased an HP Envy 360 for college.  It's a really nice machine for the bucks (Core i7, 8hrs battery life, Full HD display) but he had to return it twice.  The first had problems with the keyboard backlighting.  The second had a crooked hinge and the touchpad separated from the case.  The third one has a dead pixel but "so far" everything else is working so he's keeping it.  The store told him his experience is not unique as a lot of them have come back with defects.

 

It's good to know that competition still hasn't phased Windows hardware manufacturers business plans.  They still create products that offer a lot for the money but the quality is as it's always been.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
8/23/2014 | 3:00:01 PM
Re: Why run a fat datacenter OS core on a light duty, portable device?
What if this cheaper-by-$100 device gives a developer more flexibility? Having used a chromebook and being unimpressed bu\y its functionalities, I am more than interested in a Windows powered laptop that costs $100 less. You can only not shift if the marketing campaigns do not whisk enough dirt into the Chromebook's image.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
8/23/2014 | 2:54:26 PM
Chromebooks
Chromebooks are seriously costly, and more so in the eastern markets. People find no use of a laptop with a browser because the Chromebook hasn't been optimized to consumers' needs. The HP Stream with that pricetag would make some fan bases, but that comes with proper marketing and after sales services.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
8/21/2014 | 9:24:18 PM
Re: Why run a fat datacenter OS core on a light duty, portable device?
This price sounds pretty enticing to me! I would checkout the reviews first, before making the purchase though.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2014 | 3:47:01 PM
Re: Sounds great, but........
Part of the price value when you buy a more expensive Apple product is you get access to the genius bar. Help is as close as the closest apple store. That is a big deal to many users.
ANON1254064324824
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ANON1254064324824,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2014 | 2:44:42 PM
Why run a fat datacenter OS core on a light duty, portable device?
Why run a fat datacenter OS core on a light duty, portable device? I am a chromebook convert. 6 second reboot, no more having to be vigilant over what process is hijacking the cpu this time, 8 hour battery life, runs cool and quietly, ~$300. I'm a developer and have used Windows from day one but knocking off another $100 wouldn't sway me one bit to switch my portable to Windows.
<<   <   Page 2 / 3   >   >>
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