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What do you get with a $188 laptop?

Sub-$200 laptops on sale for the holiday shopping season are slow, but good for Web surfing, productivity applications and basic multimedia

By Agam Shah
November 21, 2012 02:45 PM ET

IDG News Service - Some laptops will be on sale for under US$200 from U.S. retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart this week. But what do you get in such inexpensive machines?

For one, you can't play the latest games or run intense applications with these lightly configured laptops, and the machines are not the easiest to carry around. The laptops are adequate for basic Web surfing, word processing or casual gaming, and could replace an aging desktop or laptop at home.

But these laptops are not for everyone. It may be worth considering a higher-priced laptop with Intel's Core or Advanced Micro Devices' A-series processors for resource-heavy applications or multimedia. Lightweight ultrabooks or touch laptops will also be priced higher, perhaps more than $500.

An inexpensive laptop I am considering is Lenovo's G585, which will be on sale at Best Buy for $187.99 starting on Black Friday. This laptop will likely fly off the shelves in a few hours, but similar configurations are available for under $200 at other stores. Wal-Mart is selling the Compaq Presario CQ58 for $179 on Black Friday in some stores.

The sub-$200 laptops will have Windows 8 and run on basic processors. The laptops will not have touchscreens, which is one of the major features supported by Windows 8, which started shipping with PCs and tablets in late October. Touchscreens are considered a premium feature, and users will likely pay more for laptops that offer them.

The Lenovo G585 has hardware that may be found in many of the sub-$200 laptops that will be available over the coming weeks of the holiday shopping season. Best Buy is pitching the G585 for daily activities like Web browsing, checking email, or basic video and audio. The laptop weighs 2.58 kilograms, has a 15.6-inch screen, and an Advanced Micro Devices dual-core E300 chip.

The E-300 processor was released more than a year ago and sits on the bottom rung of chips offered by AMD, and is adequate for the OS and basic productivity applications. Expect some sub-$200 laptops to come with Celeron processors, which are among the cheapest PC chips offered by Intel. Neither E-300 or Celeron will deliver the blazing speeds of the latest Intel Core or AMD A-series processors, which are in more expensive laptops.

The G585 offers "about the speed of a mainstream notebook from five years ago, but at lower power consumption and with all of the other modern conveniences of being built on a newer platform," said Anand Shimpi, who runs Anandtech, a technology news and benchmarking site. The CPU should be a bit better than the current crop of smartphone and tablet CPUs, but it may not match up with the latest ARM Cortex-A15 CPU in Google's Nexus 10 tablet, Shimpi said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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