Lenovo IdeaPad 100S – Full Review including Minecraft Performance

2014’s crop of sub-$200 Windows 8.1 laptops all had their weaknesses, but in general they all offered a high enough combination of performance and solid construction to feel like a great value. Unfortunately, 2015’s Windows 10 laptops have thus far not been as good of a bargain for consumers.

The IdeaPad 100S is Lenovo’s new budget Windows 10 laptop, with an MSRP of $199, which includes one year of Office 365 and 1 TB of OneDrive storage. Is this late 2015 laptop the low-end Windows 10 device that finally recaptures some positive momentum for the budget Windows product line?

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Kangaroo Mobile Desktop: $99 Portable Windows 10 PC

 

Announced earlier this summer and now hitting online retailers, the Kangaroo Mobile Desktop is a $99 mobile Windows 10 PC, with a surprisingly good combination of features and specs for its price point. A joint venture between InFocus and Foxconn, the Kangaroo is a unique portable PC that seems like a great value with the potential to be a versatile addition to your tech arsenal.

In this full review, I’ll talk about my experiences with this device over one full week of mixed use, inclusive of web browsing, local gaming, Steam Streaming, Minecraft, Hearthstone, and MS Office. Note that you can also click here to watch my full video review of this device on YouTube.

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HP Stream Mini Review: Windows 10 Edition

The HP Stream Mini is an excellent Windows alternative to a Chromebox for those who want a small, cheap PC primarily designed for web content, but with more horsepower than lower end laptops and HTPCs using Bay Trail processors. It has been the best-selling desktop system on Amazon.com fairly consistently since its release, which frankly doesn’t surprise me at all. It has modest but competent specs paired with easy upgradeability, resulting in a package that offers tremendous performance for the price.

With the release of Windows 10, I wanted to see how the upgrade process went on the Stream Mini, and how it handled Microsoft’s new OS.

Let’s take a long look at the HP Stream Mini and Windows 10.

NOTE: As of fall 2015, HP has discontinued the HP Stream Mini. Hopefully they will be releasing an updated version with Windows 10 pre-installed in the near future. That said, it is still available for purchase and remains an incredible value.

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Asus C100 Chromebook Flip Review

 

Another day, another Rockchip-powered Chromebook… but, thankfully, this one is different. Very different.

In fact, the Chromebook I’m reviewing today, the Asus C100,  is the most buzzed about Chromebook in some time.

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Where the Hisense and Haier Chromebooks represent the price basement of the Chrome OS lineup, the Asus C100 – hereafter referred to by its more common name, the Chromebook Flip – pairs the budget guts of those devices with an IPS touchscreen and a versatile aluminum hybrid body.

I gave a very positive review to the Asus C201, which has the same internal components as the Flip, but the Flip’s starting cost is nearly $100 more for a smaller device. Does it make sense to pair a budget SoC with higher-end build quality, and how is a touch-driven form factor work with Chrome OS?

Read on…

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Asus C201 Video Review

Tired of the stress and strain of “reading words”? Perhaps instead of reading my Asus C201 review, you’d rather have my words fly directly into your ear holes?

Today’s your lucky day, friend, as below you’ll find a full video review of the Asus C201! You can currently buy this Chromebook for $159 from Amazon for the 2 GB version, or $189 for the 4 GB version, and I have to say I’ve really fallen for this device.

Enjoy the review, and stay after the end credits for the world’s best chicken impression…

 

Asus C201 – $169 Chromebook Review

As of this writing, there are three new Chromebooks from early 2015 available with MSRP’s below $199, all running on the Rockchip RK3288 SoC:

I’ve previously written about the Hisense and the Haier, and found the Hisense to be the better device overall, with the lone exception being the Haier’s superior battery.

The Asus C201 had a quiet release given the press coverage of those two cheaper and retailer-exclusive devices, but subsequently had very positive reviews on Amazon. It costs $20 more, but has generally the same specs as those two cheaper devices, with the addition of a promised 13-hour run time.

Is it worthy of the additional expense, or are you just paying for the name brand?

Let’s take a look at the Asus C201.

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Hisense Chromebook Review: $149 Walmart Exclusive

Preface

Late in March, four new Chrome OS devices were announced, all using the same Rockchip RK3288 SoC (System on Chip). Powered by the ARM Cortex-A17, the specs – at least on paper – seemed reasonable for a low-end Chromebook: a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor, a Mali GPU, and support for 4K video and H.265 video decoding.

The first two devices using the RK3288 are now available for purchase, and both are 11.6″ Chromebooks from names you may not be familiar with: Haier and Hisense. Today, I’m going to give you a detailed review of the Hisense Chromebook.

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Acer C740 Chromebook – Full Review

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Before kicking off the review proper, I want to provide some background on Acer’s Chromebook offerings the past few years and look at how and where the C740 fits into their product line.  I’d also like to note that I have a video review up as well, see the bottom of this review for the link if interested.

The Acer C720 is, for many people, the archetypal Chromebook. It pairs a very low cost – starting at $199.99 – with reasonable build quality for the budget category, and snappy performance courtesy of a Haswell-based 2955U processor and 16 GB SSD. Performance at this level was unheard of at the sub-$200 price point before this device launched in late 2013, and even today, Acer is the leading OEM in the Chromebook space largely on the back of this versatile little device.

Full disclosure here: I own a C720 and it was my first Chromebook, so I am very fond of it. You can see how it compares to some low-end Windows devices here: Budget Laptop Battle

On a less positive note, the C720 is also the poster child for the lower quality matte-coated TN panels that ship on many Chromebooks. While they do a good job of handling the glare students might face in a school setting, consumers have become used to significantly better screens due to advances in displays in the tablet computing and smartphone space. Continue reading Acer C740 Chromebook – Full Review

Moto 360: A Beautiful Beta

When Motorola revealed the Moto 360, the initial reaction was overwhelmingly positive: finally, a smartwatch that actually looked, well, like a watch.

It wasn’t so much that Samsung and LG’s smartwatches were unattractive, per se, it was just that they didn’t look like a traditional watch design. There was no chance that someone would look at them and think, “That’s a good looking watch!” Their large size, square design, and mediocre to poor watchbands set them apart from what we think of as a quality watch design. That makes them fine as a gadget for people really into technology, but not really functional as an all-purpose watch.

The 360 changed that:

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There’s really no question that the Moto 360 is hands-down the most attractive smartwatch currently on the market. How did Motorola do with the internals of the device, and is Google Wear worth your money at this point?

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