There once was a time when owning a computer was a lot like owning a giant TV set - it was something only the rich could afford. Then slowly the cost of computing power (and subsequent devices) decreased. While several years ago companies such as Acer brought down costs by creating a market for cheap, lost cost ‘netbooks’, prices again went up as users demanded touch screens for their devices.
Now however, HP is bringing out a range of new devices, which are some of the cheapest Windows computers ever released. These come in the form of the company’s ‘Stream’ line of laptops and tablets, and they are the first devices to deliver on the promise by Microsoft that a $199 Windows 8.1 computer is on the way.
The smallest of the Stream series laptops, has a 11.6 inch screen, and retails for $199, while larger models with a 13.3 and 14 inch screen sell for $230 and $300 respectively. While they are very cheap, these devices also pack reasonable computing power, with an Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of ram and 64GB of flash storage. In addition, they come pre-installed with the Office productivity suite, making them useful for students and professionals alike.
Alongside the Stream laptops, HP is also releasing two ultra-low cost tablets: the Stream 7 and Stream 8. These are unsurprisingly a 7 and an 8 inch tablet, with the smaller model selling at just $99, while the larger one is $50 more at $149. Unlike other tablets of their size however, they will not be running Android, but rather will run on the Windows 8.1 operating system, making them the cheapest devices in this category.
That HP was able to release Windows devices for such a low price point represents a major coup for Microsoft. Through this release, it can show to its customers, and indeed other OEMs that Windows in not just a platform for high end devices, but can also run across a broad spectrum of computing power, and price points. Competitors such as Google and Apple would do well to take note.
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