Most Chromebooks cost somewhere between $200 and $300, a price range they've occupied since the launch of the first $199 Chromebook in late 2012. For a long time, they were unchallenged in this price range, but recent efforts by Microsoft and PC OEMs have brought decent Windows laptops down to $200, too. Today the price war escalates again—Google is announcing a pair of Chromebooks that go down to $149.
The new Chromebooks are the first from Hisense and Haier, two Chinese companies known primarily for supplying budget products to specific retailers. Hisense products, including the new Hisense Chromebook, are typically sold through Walmart, while the Haier Chromebook 11 will be available from Amazon.
Both of these Chromebooks come with ARM processors rather than the more common Intel offerings, which partially explains why they're so cheap. The other specs are pretty barebones, too: each laptop includes 2GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage and an 11.6-inch 1366×768 display with a maximum brightness of 200 nits. Each has two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, a microSD card reader, a headphone jack, a full-size HDMI port, and a 720p webcam, as well as 867Mbps 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 support.
The only real differences between the two are their size, weight, and promised battery life. The Hisense model is 0.6 inches thick but weighs 3.3 pounds and promises 8.5 hours of battery life. The Haier Chromebook is thicker at 0.71 inches, but weighs 2.54 pounds and runs for up to 10 hours. A second variant of the Haier Chromebook 11 offers a removable battery in a slightly thicker, heavier package (0.89 inches and 2.76 pounds).