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Review: 2 low-cost Windows 10 laptops challenge the Chromebooks

Brian Nadel | Feb. 10, 2016
Two US$200 systems offer travelers a lightweight and low-cost way to work with Windows apps on the road.

448.9

397.1

Google Octane 2.0

4,157.50

6,548.0

Screen brightness

226 nits

177 nits

Battery life (hours: minutes)*

6:40

8:05

Higher numbers are better. *Timed from continuously running videos

How I tested

To see how these two inexpensive notebooks compare, I used each for at least a week in my office, at home and on the road.

After measuring and weighing each notebook, I checked out the material that the cases were made out of and how slippery or grippy they were. I measured them and then put each on a mock-up of an airplane seat-back tray table to see how easily it mixed travel and work.

I looked over the ports offered on each as well as tried them out by connecting each to a display, a pair of headphones and a 1GB external USB hard drive. Next, I connected each to my office Wi-Fi and then to a Bluetooth speaker.

I measured each system's screen brightness with a Konica Minolta LM-1 luminance meter. After setting up the system to display a pure white image, I divided the screen up into three rectangular sections and measured the brightness in each. I converted the foot-lambert readings to candelas per square meter and averaged the three readings.

To compare their performance, I benchmarked each system using PassMark's PerformanceTest 8.0 to get a good idea of each machine's overall performance potential for everyday tasks, from creating spreadsheets to writing memos. This suite of tests stresses every major system component, from the processor, memory and hard drive to the graphics. It then compiles the results into a single score that represents its performance potential. I ran the software three times and averaged the results.

After that, I ran Google's Octane 2.0 to see how well each system handles the rigors of JavaScript programming. The software runs everything from core language and math operations to virtual machine, strings and arrays.

While I ran the tests, I felt around the system's case for hot spots and recorded them using the Seek Compact infrared camera on an Android tablet.

To gauge each system's worst-case battery life, I played six HD and 4K videos from a USB key until the battery was dead. As the battery was discharged, I monitored its status using PassMark's BatteryMon. This test was repeated three times, and the results averaged.

 

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