When ASUS introduced the first EeePC back in 2007, it became a huge hit and essentially ushered in the era of the netbook. Using Linux as the core OS and sporting low-end hardware in order to target a price of $200 (though it ended up shipping at $300 initially), the ultraportables world was forever changed. Google essentially revised and reinvigorated the netbook market with their Chromebook initiative, which brought us $200 laptops in 2011 that again used an alternative OS. Considering the $200 Chromebooks have been one of the highest volume laptops for the past year or two, others are looking to get a piece of that market. Now ASUS is teaming up with Microsoft to release a Windows 8.1 with Bing laptop that hopes to steal some of the thunder from budget Chromebooks.

As you'd expect from any full laptop selling for $200, the components are going to be relatively low-end. ASUS is using an 11.6" 1366x768 LCD – and no, it is not a touchscreen – the first sign of compromise. The processor comes courtesy of Intel's quad-core Atom platform (Bay Trail), and the X205 will ship with 2GB RAM and 32GB onboard storage (plus two years free of 500GB ASUS WebStorage). It also features two USB 2.0 ports, 802.11n WiFi, micro-HDMI, and microSD support. There will also be a version with 64GB of storage at a slightly higher price point. In other words, this is sort of like what would happen if you took a basic tablet and converted it back into a laptop, and then used Windows 8.1 instead of Android.

The overall quality of any $200 laptop is obviously going to be a concern, as that price point is far below what we usually see for Windows laptops. For those that want a higher performance computing device, this is obviously not going to fit their needs, but Windows 8.1 has taken steps to improving performance on low memory devices, and you still get a full keyboard and presumably decent battery life. You also get full compatibility with the existing library of Windows applications, which is going to be the real selling point. Is the market still interested in such a device, or have most people moved on to tablets and Chromebooks? We'll find out how well the X205 does at retail in the coming months.

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  • schizoide - Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - link


    Chromebooks need 4GB RAM to be actually usable too. Otherwise once you get past 3-4 tabs they slow to a crawl.
  • mkozakewich - Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - link

    Well, sure, because Chrome. If you're not using Chrome, you can get away with about 2GB less RAM.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, September 4, 2014 - link

    ChromeOS doesn't have a swap file, so that's a problem as well -- use too many browser tabs and some can get dumped and reloaded, which is a problem on some AJAX enabled sites.
  • Alexvrb - Thursday, September 4, 2014 - link

    Yikes! That is a problem. I had no idea it lacked a swap file. Run a few apps, open a few too many tabs... something has to give.
  • Alexey291 - Friday, September 5, 2014 - link

    You've never actually used a chromebook have ya? :) What "few apps" are we talking about here? The 3.5 web apps that it can run outside of the chrome window?

    And yes it does have a swap "file" or more like a swap partition to be precise. That's why you don't see it :)
  • Alexvrb - Thursday, September 4, 2014 - link

    I've used tablets running full Windows 8.1 with 2GB of RAM and they work fine as long as you have an even halfway decent CPU. Not sure what's wrong with your Chromebook, maybe you should contact Google and see if they can't trim some of the fat out for their next big release.
  • kudura1 - Saturday, September 6, 2014 - link

    I disagree. Win uses 1.5 Gb by itself. Always read the "minimum" requirements for a product and then double it for usable requirements and then double that for preferable/ performance. Win 7 and above (64 bit is standard equipment these days) requires 2 Gb to run at least 3 Gb to be usable and 4 is preferred.
    Know your product before you spew nonsense for an up and coming product release.
  • Anonymous Blowhard - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    "Know your product before you spew nonsense for an up and coming product release."

    Gosh, I'd better click your link and Inform Myself then!

    > If you want to run Windows 8.1 on your PC, here's what it takes:
    > RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)

    So 1GB minimum, double that for usable is 2GB. Sounds to me like it will be "perfectly usable."

    Disagree with the truth all you want but it doesn't make you right.
  • Bob Todd - Thursday, September 4, 2014 - link

    Rubbish. My T100 is perfectly usable with 2GB of RAM (even Office). My other laptops are i7s with 16GB of RAM, so it's not like I'm only accustomed to poverty spec mobile hardware. Yes more is better, but the idea that the existing Bay Trail machines are dogs for basic day-to-day usage is bollocks.
  • markiz - Thursday, September 4, 2014 - link

    My T100 is perfectly usable with a Baytrail and 2GB of RAM. IE and Opera desktop can handle a couple of dozen of tabs, office runs just fine, 1080P video (streaming and local) as well. I can even play a few years old desktop games on it, but I don't push it.
    Plus, the windows store, for all it's problems, is perfectly adequate for most people, I dare say.

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