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We can all probably use a bit more organization in our lives. If an overcrowded desk is hindering your focus at work, something like Satechi’s iDesk may be the answer. The organizer’s slim design allows you to easily and conveniently position it in front of your monitor, where it’ll neatly stow all of your essentials. For $40, it’s an easy recommendation for people who sit at a desk for eight or more hours a day. Google has opened the floodgates on cheap Chrome devices, announcing three brand-new ways you can use a browser-only PC without breaking the bank —from a tiny stick that plugs into an HDMI port to a laptop that flips over to become a tablet to $149 computers that are cheaper than most smartphones. With today’s announcements, Google wants to show that no matter what you need a computer for, Google can meet those needs for a much lower price than Microsoft’s Windows partners or Apple’s Macs.

So far, that strategy seems to be working pretty well, which is one reason why Chromebook models have been top selling laptops on Amazon for the last two holiday seasons running. $149 Chromebooks: Chromebooks are usually pretty cheap as laptops go — Asus sells many models for around $199, and even a higher-powered model like Toshiba’s popular 13.3 inch Chromebook carries an MSRP of $329.Today, though, Hisense and Haier release Chromebooks at new all-time low, with $149 models that Google promises don’t skimp on performance or looks.That $149 price point makes them almost irresistibly cheap, especially for cash-strapped schools looking to invest in devices — Chromebooks are already popular in education — and in developing countries.These will also be the first Chromebooks that run certain Android apps like Viber, VLC Media Player, Vine, and DuoLingo straight from the desktop.The Hisense has an 11.1-inch screen with a promised 8.5 hour battery life, running on an ARM processor (the same kind of chip you usually find in smartphones, not laptops) from Rockchip.

For those schools with a little extra cash, the Haier model is going to come in a toughened version with a rubberized shell, a handle to grip, and even a hole at the bottom to let loose the water damage that kids will inevitably inflict on them. (Google didn’t say how much it would cost.)You can order the Hisense Chromebook and the Haier Chromebook 11 today from Walmart.com and Amazon respectively. Meanwhile, Google gave Business Insider a Hisense Chromebook for review, and in fact, this very post was written on one.Early impressions: It’s solid but unremarkable, which makes it exceptional for a $149 computer.Asus Flip: The $249 Asus Flip, due later this year, does what it says on the box and flips over to go from a 2-pound, 10.1 inch-screen laptop to a 10.1 inch-screen tablet.In laptop mode, it looks just like any other Chromebook. But in tablet mode, it uses a new, touch-optimized version of the Chrome operating system that makes it easier to work with using only your fingers —better than using it with the tiny icons of the desktop mode. It’s a little like the Lenovo Yoga, a more expensive Windows laptop/tablet combo that tried to do the same thing a few years ago.


At $249, it’s competitive with most other Chromebooks (which is to say, cheaper than most laptops), and still considerably less expensive than most Android tablets, including Google’s 8.9 inch Nexus 9, which starts at $399.We’ll find out whether or not it performs as well as an Android tablet or a laptop on its own when it comes out later this year. Asus Chromebit: Perhaps the coolest thing Google showed was this computer-on-a-stick called the Chromebit, from Asus. It’s also due out later this year.Plug a Chromebit into the HDMI port of any television or monitor, and you have a full-fledged Chrome OS-based computer at your disposal. It has USB ports on the end to plug in a mouse and keyboard, or you can use Bluetooth for the same.The Chromebit has 2GB of memory and 16GB of storage, “exactly the same as any other Chromebook,” Sengupta says. He described it as a “tiny little Chrome device.” The Asus Chromebit looks a bit like the popular Chromecast, only bigger and in a variety of colors. The official price is still TBA, but Google promises it will be “less than $100" when it comes out this summer.

Interestingly, in addition to just being a super-tiny PC, Chromebits could be useful as digital signs. A business that buys a bunch of Chromebits will be able to control them all from a central point. Google claims that because you can use them ad infinitum, that “less than $100" price point means that the Chromebit is actually cheaper than the cost of printing a new paper sign for every new need. Back in 2012, there was only one Google Chromebook. It was made by Samsung, and it ruled the Amazon charts for a long while (as many individual Chromebooks still do), but it was the only one. Since then, Google has expanded the web-based Chrome operating system (OS) to work on a variety of products, from an expanded range of Chromebook laptops to the Chromebase all-in-one PC to the Chromebox shuttle PC to the Chromebox for Meetings teleconferencing system.Now, Google has identified more itches that it believes Chrome devices can scratch, and on the cheap.

Microsoft has committed to making Windows 10 free on small devices, which should pave the way for a lot of inexpensive Windows devices. But Google’s relentlesss price-cutting on Chrome devices will help hold Microsoft to that promise.Apple’s likely to unveil the next iteration of iOS very soon, which means it’s just about time for everyone to get excited about everything new, then lament the features that haven’t been added.This process is inevitable, so we might as well start the complaining early. As someone who’s recently switched from a Nexus 5 to an iPhone SE, there’s one Android-esque bit I particularly want from a potential iOS 10: a customizable Control Center.For the most part, the Control Center — that little settings menu you swipe up from the bottom of your display — is a good thing. Introduced with iOS 7, it’s made it very easy to access commonly used functions. Three or four button presses become a swipe and a tap. This is something any OS that sells itself on “simplicity” should strive to do.

The problem is one that’s not unfamiliar to iPhone owners: a lack of user control.As it stands now, the functions you can access are limited to the handful Apple chooses itself. For me, it’s not a stretch to call some of these expendable. I’ll run through the lot of them now to explain what I mean. Airplane mode: There’s only one instance in which I use Airplane mode, and that’s on actual airplanes. Still, it can be useful if you’re having a battery crisis or you just to go off the grid for a bit, so sure, whatever. Bluetooth: Wireless headphones, speakers, wearables, and toothbrushes are enough of a thing that it has to be there. Do Not Disturb: There are certain situations where it’s crucial for certain people. Personally, vibrate is enough, and nobody’s calling at 1AM, so I usually pass. Orientation lock: If anything, this detracts from the user experience if you watch videos regularly. I’ve read enough articles lying in bed to know it’s annoying when the whole screen flips, but that’s about it. The point here isn’t that half the Control Center is useless, but that everyone has their preferences. I try keep my cellular data off when I don’t need it, for instance. I also have friends who use iMessage. When I’m out, I usually wind up going against my inclinations, because I don’t want to go through the hassle of unlocking the phone and repeatedly tapping through settings menus to get a text. This is annoying, and happens too often.


It’s a similar deal if you want to use, say, VPN, Personal Hotspot, or Location Services. Giving the option to swap these in, or at least expand the two rows of toggles there now, would seem to be a simple fix. Adding shortcuts to third-party apps would be even better, though that could open up issues in design (since Apple would need developers to make custom icons) and security (since you’d be able to access personal data from the lock screen).Is something like this more for geeks than “everyday” people? Yeah. Would that make it any less useful? Nope. There are plenty other things for Apple to address with the next iOS update — multi-user support, a better Siri, the ability to remove unused default apps — but I know I’ll be happy so long as I don’t have to look at a calculator icon again.Buying a budget laptop is an exercise in compromise. There’s no one category of tech where the old “You get what you pay for” axiom rings truer — you simply aren’t going to find many affordable notebooks that are close to being “objectively good” buys the way a Macbook Pro or Dell XPS 13 is. On average, their screens are grainy, their builds are flimsy, and their internals aren’t very fast. Mediocrity is the norm.But they’re cheap. It’s perfectly understandable why legions of plastic $400 notebooks are swiped off of Best Buy and Walmart’s shelves each fall: Even if it’s the safer purchase in the long run, dropping $1,000 on a better-made machine is a schedule-changing investment. And it’s not as if every laptop buyer needs higher-end materials in their stuff.


That said, if you’re going to buy cheap, you might as well get the most from your dollar. So instead of writing off the category and demanding you save your money for a better notebook, we dove headfirst into the sea of budget laptops to find the ones that are worth buying.Not surprisingly, the returns were thin. We settled on a rough guideline of laptops under $550, but since this side of the market is filled with such a diverse range of devices, we included our favorites from a selection of full-on notebooks, 2-in-1 convertibles, Chromebooks, and ultra-affordable Windows machines, like the HP Stream.Per usual, we settled on the following laptops after scouring the web for reviews and performing our own hands-on testing. We assigned them a BI Rating, which you can read more about here. And as always, we plan to update this guide over time to reflect the many new notebooks that’ll arrive in the coming weeks.

  1. http://kriterium3.doodlekit.com/blog
  2. https://www.storeboard.com/wwwpcakkucom1/blog
  3. https://www.tumblr.com/blog/kriterium3

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