Laptops with Qualcomm’s 835 processor could be a promising alternative for thrifty shoppers who want a powerful PC.
Chromebooks have been selling well, especially in education markets. These stripped-down notebooks basically provide access to the Internet via your Google account; anything you can do on the Web can be done on a Chromebook.
Some are priced as low as $179, making them very attractive to the education market, though teachers might find them limited given their reliance on the Web. Although there is not a lot of money to be made in low-end laptops, there are those who need a more full-featured device than their smartphone or tablet, but don’t want to spend upwards of $1,000. Enter Chromebooks and low-cost Windows laptops.
At WinHec in Shenzhen, China, a few weeks ago, Microsoft and Qualcomm announced a new reference design for 32-bit Windows-based laptops that use Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processors and run a full version of 32-bit Windows 10. While one might be tempted to say this is a rehash of Windows RT, Microsoft has assured its customers that this is a newly designed version of Windows 10 that will work seamlessly with all Win 32-bit apps.
While we already see some basic Windows laptops on the market for as low as $299, the processor and features of these systems are at the bottom of the performance barrel. But what makes the Qualcomm-Microsoft spec interesting is that Qualcomm’s 835 processor is one of the most powerful mobile processors out there, giving low-end laptops more bang for the buck, so to speak. Laptops using this new spec could be a very promising alternative for thrifty shoppers who still want some oomph in their portable computer.
Conceptually, a laptop using this spec could also become a solid alternative to Chromebooks, although at the moment Microsoft has not stated how a laptop with these specs will be positioned.
Either way, this new spec could evolve into an interesting new laptop option in 2017. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding. The announcement was just a spec, and we have yet to see any actual products based on this to understand its performance capabilities and how Windows 10 works on this Qualcomm processor. But if Microsoft and Qualcomm pull this off, they could revive the low-cost laptop market in the new year, and give consumers another good option.