Expect To See Sub-$250 Laptops in 2H 2014

As we've already seen with Hewlett Packard's (HP) Mullins-based Pavilion 10z, which has a starting price of $249.99, unnamed sources are reporting to DigiTimes that during the second half of 2014, Microsoft and its notebook partners will be pushing entry-level models priced in the $199 to $249 window. That's certainly good news for consumers who are gearing up for the back-to-school season and need something that's very affordable and without a lot of fluff.

The report states that for the $199-$249 price window, Microsoft and Intel require that the laptop have screens from 10.1-inches to 15.6-inches. They must also have a clamshell form factor, no touchscreens, and use Intel's "Bay Trail-M" Atom processors. Later on, they want to move to the Braswell-based chips that are expected to arrive by Q2 2015.

The laptop requirements also include 1 GB to 4 GB of DDR3 memory, a 500 GB hard drive and an SSD between 16 GB and 32 GB, a battery promising up to 5 hours on a single charge, and Windows 8.1 with Bing. The thickness of these low-priced notebooks must be no greater than 25 mm, or 0.98 inches (HP's Pavilion 10z measures just 0.89 inches thin).

The DigiTimes sources claim that Intel also has reference designs for laptops priced between $249 and $399, and reference designs for models priced between $399 and $599. Screen sizes range from 11.6-inches to 17.3-inches and do not require Windows 8.1 with Bing. However, the discounted OS will be required on devices with screens 13.3-inches to 14-inches, and 10.1- to 12.5-inches 2-in-1 devices.

On a whole, these laptops will be marketed to customers who only need a notebook for light activities like checking email, surfing the Internet, watching kittens on YouTube and doing research. These notebooks are also expected to catch the eye of businesses in the enterprise market due to their price and size. Thanks to Ultrabooks, "thin and light" is an ongoing theme in the notebook sector.

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  • dextermat
    ugh.... hp and atom in the same laptop.....
  • InvalidError
    I would not use one of these things with less than 2GB RAM: all the swapfile trashing with only 1GB if doing anything useful on one of those would eat through the SSD's write endurance on fairly short order.
  • TheMentalist
    Good for a starting web developer.
  • joaompp
    I just threw up in my mouth alittle
  • CaedenV
    It is great to see a little resurgence of cheap laptops again. Everyone knocked the old Netbook design (sometimes for good reason) but it really was a great thing that I wish more manufacturers took more seriously. I picked up an Acer win7 basic netbook back in the day and pimped it out with a 500GB HDD (came with 80GB) and 2GB of ram (came with 512MB lol) and that thing was awesome once you got all of the crap-ware off of it. I use to plug it into the output of mixing boards and record audio for local plays and shows and use that feed for the master audio for video editing later. The great thing about it was that you could set it to record, close the lid, and hide it behind the audio equipment so that you knew for sure that nobody was going to mess with it; and with the screen and wifi off it would be able to record 6-7 hours of content on a single charge so I didn't need to bring my power cord either. Granted if the wifi and screen were on then you would be lucky to get 2-3 hours on a charge which was problematic for other things like long school classes and whatnot, but it was still a great little $280 laptop with ~$150 in upgrades.

    Today we have much better displays, much better processors, much faster drives or embedded memory storage, and could make a much better and cheaper netbook... but the only real competitor in the space is the ASUS T100. And don't get me wrong, for what it is, it is really great, but it would be nice to see something with that same form factor, screen, processor, etc. which could hold more than 2GB of RAM. 2GB of ram is simply not enough for a modern x86 machine if you have documents and browsers open to do school work. That same little box with double the memory however would be a great little system that would last a good long time.
  • NeatOman
    if you knew where to look 2 years ago you could have been getting NEW laptops for $250 from ASUS with a Celeron 1000m (1.8 dual core with 2mb cache), 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD with a 14" screen and 4 hour battery life (ehh).

    *not on black Friday either.
  • canadianvice
    Low cost laptops like these are built to fail. I always tell people when I'm at work to buy something more expensive or get the warranty, because I've seen that these inevitably fail within the span of 2 or 3 years (always after the MF warranty though).

    Oh well, a lot of them have learned the hard way that not every salesperson is just lying scum.
  • iceTorch
    5 hour battery life is alright but IM spoiled by the 8 hour battery life on chromebooks.
  • Gabriel Fonseca
    Oh yay, 10" screen coupled with a Atom CPU... reminds me of the horrid "netbooks" that were made a few years ago that were so bad that companies stopped making them and then started selling again and just calling them "ultrabooks" Sadly I have seen the Haswell Celeron do daily tasks twice as fast as even the quad core atom chips.. Ouch!
  • thundervore
    Great to see the small laptops showing their heads again but it needs at least a 1024x 768 resolution. The old netbook resolution sucked so bad that websites didn't display correctly.

    Also needs at least 6GB ram and a quad core processor