With Intel’s Ultrabook program funding and spurring the industry onto another market and forever changing the ways disc drives are approached, it was only a matter of time before they started appearing in the lower price brackets. Because of the thermal constraints places upon their designs there aren’t many versions with powerful hardware inside, with most relying on some Intel Core processor with on-die graphics. But most of these solutions are above the $700 barrier, stifling entry into lower-priced markets somewhat. But that’s all about to change with the launch of Windows 8.
Enter ASUS with the Q200E, an Ultrabook priced at $549.
Its not aiming to be as impressive as its bigger brothers in the Zenbook range. In fact, I’m even doubting ASUS could make a better Ultrabook than the Zenbook UX13 because they’ve set the bar so high. The Q200E features a low-voltage Intel Core i3 2365M with two cores running at 1.4GHz and Intel’s HD3000 graphics core. Elsewhere there’s 4GB of DDR3-1333 RAM, a 500GB slim hard drive (which means a 7mm SSD will be necessary if you want to put one in), 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet (which isn’t seen very often in Ultrabooks), and three USB ports, with one boasting USB 3.0 speeds.
The keyboard is in ASUS’s traditional chicklet island-style with the keys being 93% of their full size. The touchpad is a single block of plastic with left and right-clicks handled by switches at the bottom left and right of the pad. The screen is 11.6 inches wide and boasts touch capability with multi-touch, pinch-to-zoom and full functionality with Windows 8.
ASUS is preparing the Q200E for an October 26th launch and will have it available across America with the rest of the world to follow shortly. You can expect local retailers to charge at least R6000 for this cheap, portable workhorse when it lands here. Will it be another option for Hackintosh fans? They’ve been having moderate success with systems running the Core i3-2365M ULV and this may present as a cheaper option to Apple’s Macbook Air.
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