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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Intel Compute Stick 2016 Review – Proof of Concept for Stick PCs

2015 was the year that HDMI “stick” PCs  moved from the periphery of the market to the mainstream. Intel’s Compute Stick, released for $159.99, had the most buzz of these new Windows PCs, combining a tiny form factor with the power of the Intel brand name.

Unfortunately, it suffered from WiFi and Bluetooth issues, and had just a single USB port. Without reliable access to WiFi and Bluetooth, it couldn’t function effectively as a streaming device, and using a USB hub as a workaround to the single, lonely USB port somewhat defeats the purpose of a tiny form-factor PC that can hide behind a TV or monitor.

For 2016, Intel has a new lineup of Compute Stick PCs hitting the market, kicking off with the February release of a lower-end model, packing an Intel x5-Z8300 processor. Does this version address the issues from last year’s model?

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Retro Review: Asus Transformer Book T100 2014

Tech reviews are all about the latest devices and new releases, but how do these devices hold up over time? How are consumers supposed to determine which devices are worthy of consideration for purchase as a refurbished or used unit?

These are the questions I attempt to answer in my Retro Review series, featuring commonly available laptops and tablets that are worth considering for purchase a year or more after their release date.

Today’s Retro Review: The Asus Transformer Book T100-TAM (2014)

What is it?

The Asus Transformer Book line launched in late 2013, featuring a 2-in-1 hybrid design, and attempted to offer the convenience of a tablet with the functionality of a laptop running Windows 8.1. It featured an Intel Atom processor, a 1366×768 IPS touchscreen display, and an all-plastic body design. An updated version has been released annually since that time, as the initial one was a commercial success for Asus.

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Budget Desktop Battle: Kangaroo PC vs Chromebit vs Remix Mini

Today’s smartphones and tablets are powered by processors that may be small, but are powerful enough to run full desktop operating systems. This isn’t just a marketing claim, as manufacturers are making desktop computers using mobile processors and components. These devices combine the low cost and tiny footprint of these mobile processors with traditional desktop operating systems and capabilities, allowing for miniature computers that are exceptionally portable.

In this article I will compare three PCs that are all available for below $100, featuring three different operating systems: Windows 10, Android, and Chrome OS. Each has a unique form factor, resulting in varying strengths, weaknesses, and features. These small PCs are a great way to turn a TV with an extra HDMI port into a full-fledged computer, and offer both productivity and entertainment options.

Read on to find out more about these three new micro PCs:

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Budget Windows 10 Laptop Battle: HP Stream 11 vs Acer Cloudbook 11 vs Lenovo 100S

Last year, Windows 8 laptops dropped below the $200 price point for the first time, as part of Microsoft’s push back against Google’s Chromebooks. Two models in particular – the HP Stream 11 and Asus X205TA – made a strong case for the viability of cheaper Windows laptops. I did a comparison between these models and the Acer C720 Chromebook, here.

With the release of Windows 10 this year, there are new Windows 10 laptops available below $200 that have replaced those older models, which are now mostly off the market. These feature different hardware in addition to Microsoft’s updated – and much better, frankly – Windows 10 operating system.

In this article I’ll summarize my reviews of the following laptops:

For each device, I’ll explain its pros and cons, and then give some thoughts as to who should consider each device, and why. At the bottom of this post you can also find my video reviews for these laptops.

Note that as of this writing, all three of these laptops include one year of MS Office 365 and 1 TB of OneDrive storage.

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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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The HP Stream 11 2015 Edition – Full Review including MS Office, Minecraft and Hearthstone

Last year’s HP Stream 11 was one of the more successful budget Windows 8.1 laptops of the year. It featured a unique design, with decent performance paired with a great keyboard, and a year subscription to MS Office 365.

There was certainly some room for improvement, however, as it also had a mediocre screen and fairly unresponsive trackpad, and somewhat cramped local storage.

With HP’s 2015 refresh of the Stream 11 now available, is this budget laptop still worth your money?

As with Acer’s Cloudbook, the answer is… it depends.

In this review, I’ll explain why, and also compare some of the Stream’s pros and cons as compared to the Cloudbook 11.

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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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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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