Are netbooks back? The first Windows 10 S laptop from Asus only costs $279

Windows 10 S

Microsoft introduced its free, locked-down, and easier-to-manage version of Window 10, dubbed Windows 10 S, along with its premium Surface Laptop. That was an unexpected move, given that where Windows 10 S most attractive is the budget-conscious education market. Windows 10 S makes more sense when it comes loaded on low-cost machines, and Asus is one of the first manufacturers to oblige by introducing its own $279 model.

Windows 10 S is not only for education, of course. The new Asus VivoBook W202 should appeal to anyone with a severely limited budget and who is willing to compromise on some specifications. The Verge reports the VivoBook W202 offers a moderately configured machine that could be perfect for a parent to hand to a young child and feel secure that the machine will be relatively safe.

The VivoBook W202’s $279 price scores an Intel Celeron N3350 running at 1.1GHz, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. Higher-priced options are available with up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and Asus will be offering a model with the full version of Windows 10 for only $20 more.

Asus is marketing the VivoBook W202 as being built for education, touting a robust design that includes a spill-resistant keyboard, a 180-degree hinge that’s been tested to ensure reliability, and reinforced edges to protect against the inevitable drops and bumps. The 11.6-inch display is an anti-glare model to reduce eye fatigue, the keyboard offers a significant 1.8mm travel, and the touchpad is 17-percent larger to make the machine easier for students to use.

Other important specifications include up to 11 hours of battery life on a single charge and a complement of ports. Asus squeezed in two USB Type-A ports, a full-size HDMI port, and an SD card reader. Compare that to the Microsoft Surface Laptop‘s single USB Type-A port and mini-DisplayPort, and the VivoBook W202 actually comes out ahead at a fraction of the cost. In terms of size and weight, the VivoBook W202 is a chunky 2.6 pounds and 0.89 inches thick.

If you work for a school that is looking for a robust machine that students can neither easily destroy nor casually break into, then the Asus VivoBook W202 might be a solid option. It could also serve you well if you need to hand off an alternative machine to your kid and not have to worry so much about rogue applications being installed and settings being adjusted. If you are looking for a powerful machine, however, then you will likely look elsewhere.