Asus Vivobook E200HA Review – Finally, Budget Windows 10 Done Right!

The Asus Vivobook E200HA is a new budget-friendly Windows laptop, replacing the the aging X205TA in the Asus lineup. That device was one of the better sub-$200 Windows 8 laptops when it came out, and featured Windows 8.1, an Intel Atom 3735F processor, 32 GB of eMMC storage, 2 GB RAM, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and a 1366×768 display.

The new Vivobook E200HA ships with Windows 10 installed, and features an upgraded processor: the new Cherry Trail generation x5-Z8300. This is the same processor from the Intel Compute Stick 2016, and is in the same chip generation – but a slower version – as the processor in the Microsoft Surface 3.

Taking the best parts of the X205TA and upgrading the OS, keyboard, trackpad, and graphics processing capability, the new Vivobook E200HA is a compelling budget device from Asus.

Read on for more details about this devices strengths and weaknesses.

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Acer Cloudbook Review – $189 Windows 10 Laptop

Microsoft’s push back against Google’s Chrome OS platform, and Chromebooks in particular, continues in 2015 with the release of Acer’s Cloudbook series of budget Windows laptops.

The first one available, the Acer Cloudbook 11.6″ model – officially the Aspire One AO1-131-C9PM – is notable for several reasons. It has Intel’s new “Braswell” Celeron N3050 processor, comes with Windows 10 preinstalled, and has an MSRP of only $189.99 which includes a one-year Office 365 subscription.

Acer is the current market leader in Chromebooks, offering a variety of models and feature sets that are mostly well-regarded. Have they been able to apply that winning formula to the Cloudbook, or is this another low-end Windows laptop that has too many compromises? Will this suffice for a student, or for someone looking to play Minecraft?

Read on to find out!

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Behold the Acer Chromebook 15: Reviewing the World’s Largest Chromebook

No, that isn’t an alien monolith, just the world’s largest Chromebook: The Acer Chromebook 15.

Preface

Prior to the spring of 2015, the largest Chromebooks on the block were released by HP, in the form of the relatively well-received HP 14 line. The other OEMs all topped out at 13.3″ with devices like the Asus C300, Acer Chromebook 13, and Toshiba Chromebook 2. As Chromebooks are generally running lower-end processors and are designed for portability, this made logical sense; there was no need, from an engineering or build perspective, to have a larger device to dissipate heat, cram in additional drives, or allow for discrete GPUs.

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Chromebook Pixel 2 (2015) – Full Review

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Preface

Before discussing the actual device, I think it is worth spending a little time reviewing the history of the Chromebook Pixel, and how it relates to the Chromebook concept. If this doesn’t interest you, just skip down to the “Specs” header for the actual review. And if words aren’t so much your thing, check out my video review on YouTube:

 

Chromebook Pixel – Backstory

Chromebooks are, of course, designed to be Cloud machines, primarily focused on web apps and online storage. Given this definition of a Chromebook, it doesn’t really make sense for them to have high-end laptop specs. Without powerful local applications for photo and video editing software, or local graphics-intensive gaming, there’s little need for anything beyond Celeron or Core i3 processors.

Chromebooks have traditionally offered excellent value at the $200-$350 price point, providing very fast boot times, excellent battery life, and a variety of build quality and screen options, though generally most are running on Celeron processors and 1366×768 TN panels.

The one device that completely bucked this trend?

Google’s 2013 Chromebook Pixel, which released in two versions, with the cheaper being $1,299 and the upgraded model $1449!  When released, this Chromebook received generally rave reviews, but also engendered plenty of confused responses, mostly centered around who, exactly, was supposed to buy such a device?

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Budget Laptop Battle: HP Stream 11 vs. Asus X205TA vs. Acer C720

Preface

Please note: these laptops, while still available from some retailers, have been replaced in the market by more recent devices. For a comparison of the more recent Windows 10 laptops – the Acer Cloudbook 11, HP Stream 11 2015, and Lenovo IdeaPad 100S, click here.

Last December, I bought my first Chromebook – the Acer C720. At the time, it was the only sub-$200 laptop on the market that I was aware of, and as a Chromebook running Chrome OS and not Windows, it required certain sacrifices. Despite its flaws, I fell in love with it immediately, and wouldn’t be writing this blog had I not purchased it.

Today, the budget laptop landscape is significantly different. After a year of running ad campaigns mocking Chromebooks (coining the term “Scroogled“) only to see them become a major player in the education market, Microsoft has done an abrupt about-face and embraced low-end PCs: they are waiving the Windows license fee for OEMs producing low-cost laptops running Windows 8.

At the same time, several other factors have combined to break down the cellar for low-cost Windows PCs:

  • Intel has created several low-power, low-cost x86-based processor configurations capable of running Windows efficiently
  • Microsoft found a way to reduce the installed size of  Windows 8.1 OS so that it can be run off 32 GB of total storage
  • Low-cost and cheap eMMC memory is now available as a storage medium instead of mechanical hard drives

The result of all these factors is that we’re actually seeing competent Windows laptops selling for less than $200. These aren’t the second coming of Netbooks, either; yes, they’re budget systems, but they can run the OS competently and without overly dramatic sacrifices in performance or hardware quality.

As a consumer, this means that in addition to the sub-$200 Chromebooks, you now have a variety of sub-$200 Windows laptops to choose from that are actually, well, pretty good! Today I want to compare and contrast three of these devices:

[Please note that the MSRPs above may not be available as of this writing – due to the upcoming Holidays some of these items are sold out and/or are selling at above MSRP, though at other times they may be available far below MSRP.]

For each device, I’ll look at its pros and cons, and compare it to the others. I’ll start with the newer Windows laptops.

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