Intel's Sandy Bridge processors aren't just for Apple MacBooks and elite Windows laptops anymore. The latest and greatest Intel chip technology is now landing in sub-$400 lappies from Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba.
To wit, behold HP's $349 Pavilion g4-1104dx. In addition to goodies like a 14-inch LED display, 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB hard disk drive, a multiformat optical drive, a Webcam, and integrated Ethernet, you get a Pentium processor B940 with integrated Intel graphics silicon.
No, that's not the Pentium processor of yore. The new Pentium is a bona fide Sandy Bridge processor, which means it taps into Intel's latest 32-nanometer technology and graphics.
Those pricier Core i5 and Core i7 Sandy Bridge chips come with extras like Turbo Frequency (which speeds up the processor to tackle demanding tasks) and larger built-in cache memory. But you're still getting the same basic 32-nanometer chip technology in cheaper versions.
Toshiba, for its part, is selling the $379 Satellite L755-S5216 with the same Pentium chip and essentially the same specs as the HP laptop. The biggest difference is that Toshiba uses a larger 15.6-inch display.
And expect this trend to continue. Intel CEO Paul Otellini said this week during the company'sconference call that "we're taking Sandy Bridge...below the Core brand and taking versions of that into Pentium and Celeron."
He also cited a trend where low-cost mainstream laptops--like the two models above--are stealing market share from Netbooks. In addition to incursions from tablets, "Netbooks are probably also down because of the very good value...you can get in low-end notebooks nowadays as compared to, say, a Netbook," he said.