Windows 8 Laptops Drop Below $200

John Lister's picture

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is selling two Windows 8 laptops that are both priced at $199. It's seen by some analysts as a way to counter the low-cost Google Chromebook range.

The two models are the HP Stream 11 and Stream 13, which model numbers are respective of their screen sizes. The Stream 11 has a permanent price of $199; the Stream 13 is normally $229 but will have $30 off for a limited period as part of the Black Friday sales season.

To sweeten the deal, devices purchased directly from Microsoft will also receive a year's subscription to Office 365 Personal (the online edition of the Office suite), a year of antivirus protection from McAfee, and a $25 gift card for buying apps through the Windows store. (Source:

There are stipulations with the Microsoft offering, however. Once the trial subscription services run out, users will have to pay subscription fees to continue using the products. On the other hand, there are many free antivirus programs available online that do not charge a subscription fee at all, such as Avast! antivirus, or Grisoft AVG free editions. There's also Google Docs, which is similar to MS Office, and is completely free without a subscription charge.

Stream Laptop Hardware Limitations

While Windows tablets have become more competitively priced since Microsoft decided to drop some of its licensing fees, the cost of Windows is still a significant part of the production cost for a laptop.

Compared to many laptops, however, the Stream laptops have limited hardware. For example: the screen resolution is 1366x768 pixels, meaning it can't show high definition content in all its glory. The package also comes with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of SSD (solid state disk) of on-board storage; as such, memory cards or external hard drives will be needed if additional storage is required. That said, the SSDs that are offered in the Stream laptops are extremely fast compared to traditional hard drives, so there is a very compelling trade-off of speed versus storage size.

Stream Laptop Vs Google Chromebook

Without a doubt, the biggest comparison of the HP Stream Laptops and Google Chromebooks is the price range. That comparison however is not entirely fair, as the two sets of machines have very different concepts and run on entirely different operating systems - both offering benefits and drawbacks depending on perspective.

Windows 8 laptops, even at a low price, offer a much wider range of applications and support for any extra hardware devices to be plugged in. They also allow the user to work on many existing applications - and without requiring an Internet connection to function.

On the other hand, the lack of flexibility on Chromebooks helps to bring about their main advantages: simplicity of use, quick start-up times, and far less worry about viruses and malware.

Different Audiences Have Different Needs

Whether the Stream laptops are better than Chromebooks really depends on the needs of the user, and whether or not a "full-blown" PC is needed for casual web browsing and occasional document creation and editing.

It's certainly intriguing to see a major manufacturer opting to try such low-budget Windows machines. The question is whether consumers will consider the compromises that low-cost involves are worthwhile in order to get the Windows experience at a rock bottom price.

What's Your Opinion?

Would a sub-$200 cost tempt you to buy a Windows 8 laptop? Would you prefer to spend a bit extra to get better specifications? Do you think Microsoft and its partners are smart to try to compete with Google on price or should they stick to targeting customers who will pay more for a traditional PC?

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blueboxer2's picture

Sounds like something a bit bigger, significantly more capable, and (barring the OS) easier to use than a tablet. Battery life could be an issue, and wireless capability, and USB and CF slots would affect a purchase. So would an interface for an external monitor.

But at the price it could be worth a trip to the neighbourhood Microsoft store to take a further look at it.

Some IT Guy's picture

The $199 price point is nice, and the ability to run business apps that are compatible with most company offices is attractive. If it is light, it would replace a tablet PC easily.

The funny thing is, there are plenty of Tablet competitors who are near that price point, offering essentially the same thing. ASUS tablets come to mind; where you can get attachable keyboard (and extended battery, provide up to 8+ hours of use) and running Windows 8.1. Yes, it is a little more expensive, because the parts are separate, but I imagine the performance may even rival the Stream and Chromebook.