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Asustek and Lenovo prep $149 Chromebooks – report

Asustek Computer and Lenovo Group are about to offer Chromebooks – notebooks powered by Google’s Chrome OS operating system – with incredibly low price-tag of just $149, according to a media report. The new price-point for notebooks may cause further erosion of notebook ASPs [average selling prices], a bad news for manufacturers.

The ultra-low-cost Chromebooks from Asus and Lenovo will be based on the quad-core Rockchip RK3288 system-on-chip (SoC) and will feature 11.6” displays, reports DigiTimes. It is believed that the new laptops will sport feature-set akin to that of modern Chromebooks (i.e., solid-state storage, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, 720p webcam, stereo speakers, microphone, etc.), but will cost only about $149, based on estimates from DigiTimes Research.

The Rockchip RK3288 application processor sports four ARM Cortex-A17 general-purpose cores, quad-cluster ARM Mali-T764 graphics processing engine (supporting OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1, OpenCL 1.1, Renderscript and Direct3D 11.1), sophisticated video decoding/encoding capabilities (H.264, H.264-MVC, H.264-level 5.2 (for UHD video), VP8, H.265 and other codecs supported), dual-channel DDR3/LPDDR3 memory controller as well as advanced display controller (up to 3840*2160 resolutions are supported).

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The cheap Chromebooks from Asustek Computer and Lenovo will become available already in the first half of 2015.

Usage of low-cost system-on-chip from Rockchip, which integrates pretty much everything a personal computing device needs, will allow Asus and Lenovo to maintain minimal acceptable profit margins while offering PCs that will cost only $149 in Asia and North America.

The emergence of ultra-low-cost Chromebooks will add pressure on ultra-low-cost PCs based on Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system. The latter still have to use x86 microprocessors, which is why their hardware is more expensive compared to hardware that can power Chromebooks.

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KitGuru Says: It will be interesting to see how Microsoft and Intel will respond to ultra-cheap Chromebooks. Microsoft needs to ensure that its Windows OS remains the world’s most popular PC operating system, whereas Intel needs to maintain its PC processor leadership. Chromebooks based on ARM SoCs are a threat for both companies.

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