Cheap laptops are getting better every year. The $US200 HP Stream 11 is a perfect example of that. What do you get for a couple of hundred more? The new 11-inch Pavilion x360. It's a sleek backflipping laptop/tablet hybrid that sounds like surprising value for the money.
For $US410, on May 13, the 11-inch Pavilion x360 isn't too far advanced from the Intel Bay Trail convertibles you might have seen last year. At that price, you're getting a Intel Braswell processor that's only a little bit faster and a little bit more power efficient. But where those computers were still fairly chunky and often a little uncomfortable to use, the new Pavilion looks like a winner. It's a fanless computer with a sleeker frame, a fairly comfortable keyboard, loads of full size ports, and a hinge that lets the screen fold flat against the frame, just like its awesome cousin.
And if you're willing to spend $US500 on this PC, it will come with a faster Intel Core M processor and a 128GB SSD that — HP claims — gets over seven hours of battery life, two hours more than its predecessor. (So you can probably expect five or so hours of real-world use from that one.) HP says this machine will also be upgradable with 1080p IPS displays if you want.
This machine's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new computers, as PC manufacturers prep their offerings for Windows 10 and a new back to school season to come. Today HP's also announcing a host of basic Pavilion computers, a new 13-inch Pavilion x360, and a 15-inch Envy x360 convertible as well, all with better battery life, new Bang & Olufsen audio processing, and as much processing power as you have money in your wallet to spend on them.
I didn't think too much of the Envy when I saw it in person (mostly because it looks like metal but feels like plastic) but the $US770 configuration with a 1080p display, Core i5 processor, 1TB of storage and 8GB of memory might be worth it for some people. Until the other laptop manufacturers introduce their products, it's too early to say.
But it sure looks like cheap laptops are getting another shot in the arm this year. That's a win for everybody.