Competition driving laptop prices down

Saving money is obviously good news for consumers, but some experts say you may end up spending more later on.

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There’s a battle brewing between Google and Microsoft, and the winner… is you. The tech giants are releasing some of their cheapest, lightest laptops ever: the Chromebook and Surface Pro 3 — starting around $150 and $500 respectively.

The drop in PC prices comes in response to declining tablet and smartphone prices. But don’t expect those smaller devices to replace PCs altogether. Tech experts predict there will always be a need for both.

“Tablets you can watch a show, listen to music, social media. Those things are very convenient. The battery life is longer. You can put it in a bag and carry it with you everywhere you want to,” said Brian Zhang, who owns PC Warehouse in West Springfield.

But when the show’s over and the music stops, there’s work to be done. And many consumers prefer bigger, brighter and more durable.

“I prefer a laptop because I type in it. I write a lot of papers because I’m in nursing school. I do a lot of research on my laptop. I also wanted something really fast,” said AIC student Hannah Migeed.

But there is a downside to the lower-priced models we’ve seen on the market over the past few years. The technicians at PC warehouse say the quality just isn’t what it used to be, and they’re making repairs more often.

Here’s what you need to know about the models:

Surface Pros and Cons

Graphic artists, engineers and finance professionals who need to run complex software might still want the company’s higher-end Pro 3, said Dennis Meinhardt, director of program management for Surface. But the Surface 3 should be good for everyday tasks, he said, and brings the Pro 3’s premium feel to a device that will be affordable to more people.

The new Surface model is thinner and lighter, partly because it gets rid of the fan — similar to Apple’s new MacBook laptop. At 214 pixels per inch, the screen resolution is comparable to the Pro 3’s.

Battery life is promised at 10 hours for video playback. The Surface 3 runs the regular version of Windows 8.1, just like the Pro 3. In the past, Microsoft has used a lightweight version called RT in its cheaper tablets. The Surface 3 also has a USB port, a feature that distinguishes the Surface line from most rival tablets.

Sizing Up Chromebooks

Both the Hisense and Haier models have 11.6 inch screens, 2 gigabits of memory and run on Rockchip processors. The Hisense machine promises up to 8.5 hours of battery power per charge while Haier is touting up to 10 hours of power per charge on a battery that can be removed for easier replacement.

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