Few can have missed the enticing offers for Chromebooks at back-to-school discounts, with the Google Store offering up to $30 off already dirt-cheap devices, or as little as $159.99 for Acer’s 10-inch Chromebook. Few can have missed as well the news that Windows 10, long anticipated and much tried in beta release test versions, has now gone public, and is available for download, or for installation on new PCs. And is also available on cheap laptop platforms pitched to take on the Chromebooks and beat them at their own game.
Acer, purveyor of ultra-el-cheapo Chromebooks, is one of the first out of the gate, with the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook series, described as “the perfect answer for those looking for an online-oriented and portable notebook with a full Windows experience.” While hardly specced to the max, these machines offer a very favourable price/performance tradeoff in comparison to Chromebooks, and are still able to access many of Chrome’s key features via the Chrome browser. And the Cloudbook 11 will reportedly come in at only $169.
Teleread’s own reporting has already singled out Chromebooks as potentially more-than-acceptable ereading platforms for students and adults alike. There’s no reason to think that Windows 10 budget laptops will be inferior in this regard, especially when they will have access to a far wider range of software. And the downside of Google’s own comprehensive suite of web-based tools – for Google, but definitely not for users – is that much of the Chrome experience, and most Chrome-based resources, are accessible via browsers, with no reason to opt for the full-blown Chrome OS if a comparably priced but far more versatile Windows 10 device is available.
Some feature tradeoff analyses hand the palm unambiguously to Windows 10. Now, for so long as Chromebooks were substantially cheaper than Windows laptops, that could be an acceptable tradeoff; but if the price differential is minimal or nonexistent, then many kids and purchasers will start to ask: Why settle for less? Will Chromebooks be able to retain their lead in the K-12 space? All in all, the battle for kids’ hearts and minds could start to get very interesting – and beneficial for the kids.