Can HP's $200 Windows Laptop Slow Chromebook Onslaught?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- HP (HPQ) introduced its new line of inexpensive Windows laptops and tablets designed to compete with Google's (GOOG) popular Chromebooks and Android tablets.

HP's Stream line consists of a brand new $199 laptop with an 11.6-inch HD screen starting price of $200, a $230 laptop with a 13.3-inch (diagonal) screen and two tablets, 7 and 8-inch screen models priced at $99 and $149, respectively. There is a touch-screen option available for the 13.3-inch notebook.

These new devices are part of Microsoft's (MSFT) attempt to slow the sale of super-popular Google-based devices by creating much cheaper computers running versions of its Windows OS. According to a recent research note from Gartner, Chromebook sales should increase 79%, this year, reaching 5.2 million units and are expected to nearly triple - reaching 14.4 million units - by 2017. Major Chromebook (both laptop and desktop models) include Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG and Samsung.

All of HP's Stream new devices use the Windows 8.1 operating system and are powered by Intel (INTC) processors. The notebook PCs come with 2GB of RAM, 32GB of solid-state flash storage, 1 TB of Microsoft OneDrive online storage for a year, one year's worth of Office 365 Personal and a $25 gift card for use in the Microsoft Store. The larger laptop includes an optional 200MB of free, no-contract 4G data each month for the life of the device.

In our brief encounter with the new laptops, we were impressed with how portable and deceptively lightweight both units felt. By using Intel's new Celeron processors, the new Stream computers HP was able to skip using an internal fan and also provide up to 8.5 hours of battery life on a charge.

The new Stream tablets were somewhat less impressive in person. While the smaller of the two was not available for display at the event the $149 8-inch model was. Slightly boxy in shape the tablet we got to see felt slightly heavier than it looks in photos.

Both new tablets also run full versions of Windows 8.1, sport quad-core Atom processors, 1GB of RAM, cameras back (2MP) and front (0.3 MP) and offer the same OneDrive and Office 365 extras as the new Stream laptops. Microsoft is also giving new tablet owners 60 minutes of free Skype calls each month. The 8-inch model includes the same 200MB of free 4G data offer as the Stream notebooks.

HP will release a third notebook in the Stream line in the next few weeks. The Stream 14 will have a slightly larger 14-inch HD screen, an AMD (AMD) Radeon processor and will retail for just under $300.

HP was also showing a large, desk-based Android tablet design at last night's event. As you can see in the above photo, the HP Slate 17 l020 "All-in-One" resembles a number of PC designs as well as Apple's (AAPL) iMac. It has an adjustable, 17.3-inch HD touch-screen, is Intel Celeron-powered, and is set to retail for an eye-opening price of nearly $500.

The new Stream products are expected to be available in the United States on HP's shopping site, via Microsoft or at select retailers beginning in November just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent.

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