Google's unveil of its revolutionary $249 fan-less laptop comes only a couple of days after Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) announced pricing of its line of Surface tablets/laptops, and they will both be available next week.
With Microsoft's Windows 8 machines starting at $499, are they worth paying anywhere from two times and (way) up, compared to the Google laptop?
Round 1: Heat and NoiseWindows 8 RT and Google's newest laptop have one thing in common: They have both abandoned the kinds of x86 chips that have powered PCs to date. Made by Intel (INTC) and AMD (AMD), they generated so much heat that a PC required one or more fans to blow out the scorching heat, often straight onto your private parts if you were using the laptop in your lap. Perhaps Intel and AMD are responsible for more male sterilizations than a 1930s genetics experimentation program. These fans, in turn, drew so much power that the battery life suffered. It was an evil circle. What Windows 8 RT and Google/ Samsung now have in common is that they are ditching Intel and AMD in favor of ARM chips -- Samsung has its own, and Microsoft is using Nvidia (NVDA). This means that these new machines run cold, and there is no need for a fan. As a result, they are quiet, resilient over time, and require a smaller battery for the same performance. This reduces cost and makes for a much better user experience. Verdict: A draw. Google/Samsung and Microsoft are now taking a spectacular leap forward in computing technology, at the expense of Intel and AMD. The winners are Samsung itself, as well as Nvidia and Qualcomm (QCOM). Round 2: Display/Screen Microsoft's Surface tablet/laptop is 10.6 inches, compared to Google/Samsung's 11.6 inches. 10.6 inches is perfectly fine for media consumption -- the iPad is 9.7 inches -- including reading, but it does not work if you want to be productive, at least for me. 11.6 inches is the absolute bare minimum for "part-time work." To use as a primary computer, at least I will only be happy if the screen is 12.1 to 13.3 inches, and obviously something larger works too.