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With Windows XP Retiring, Meet 4 Affordable Upgrades

An iconic operating system is about to retire.If you haven’t yet heard the news, Microsoft’s Windows XP — which debuted nearly 13 years ago — won’t be supported past April 8.


No, this doesn’t mean your XP-based computer will self-destruct next week, but if you’re one of the legions of PC users still running this aging platform, it might be time for an upgrade.

Why, you ask? It works just fine, you say? Without official support, you no longer can download software updates from Microsoft, including security patches, which could put you, your data and your computer at risk. You also won’t be able to contact Microsoft for technical support for any Windows XP-related issues, along with Microsoft Office 2003, which also won’t be supported past this date.

Unless you’re going to try your luck, you’ve got a couple options. Upgrade your existing PC to Windows 8.1 — go to windows.com and type “upgrade” in the search window to let the site scan your computer for compatibility — or pick up a new computer with a newer operating system preinstalled. Microsoft, by the way, is offering a $100 rebate on “select PC or Surface [tablet] devices priced $599 or more” as the Microsoft Store.

Or consider a less expensive computer altogether. There are a number of relatively inexpensive Windows 8.1 laptops, tablets and “2-in-1” computers that serve both purposes. The following is a look at four worthy picks that won’t break the bank.


Can’t decide between a laptop and a tablet? The HP Pavilion X360 (from $399) is a flexible Windows 8.1 machine with an 11.6-inch touchscreen that folds back 360 degrees and lays flat against the underside of the keyboard. After all, while there are times when you need to type — perhaps to send some emails or crank out a sales report — later on you might want to kick back on the couch and flick through e-books, music and games. Or you might want to prop up the X360 like a tent, on a table or desk, to engage in a Skype video call. A fourth “stand” mode lets you angle the hinged screen toward you, perhaps to watch a movie, but with the keyboard tucked away so it’s not sticking out at you. Other features include a 500GB hard drive, BeatsAudio with stereo speakers, HDMI out and multiple USB ports.


If you don’t type a lot or want more portability, maybe you don’t need a new laptop or desktop. Starting at only $249, the Dell Venue 8 Pro is an 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet powered by the latest Intel Atom quad-core processor for fast performance and impressive battery life (10 hours of use, and weeks on standby). Despite its relatively inexpensive price tag, it ships with 32GB of solid state memory (and 2GB of system memory to aid in performance) but there’s also a microSD slot to expand the capacity even further. Along with two cameras (5-megapixel rear and 1.2-megapixel webcam), the Venue 8 Pro is also preloaded with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 edition (worth $139).


Those who simply want a conventional laptop design — but with a touch screen to best take advantage of Windows 8.1’s Start screen tiles — might consider the Lenovo IdeaPad S415 (from $409.99), a 14-inch laptop with 500GB hard drive, 4GB of system memory and AMD Radeon HD 8210 graphics. You can choose to use the keyboard and trackpad or 10-point multitouch screen — or in all likelihood, a combination of the two at the same time. Extras include Dolby Advanced Audio technology for clear and powerful sound, an HDMI port to connect to a high-def television, a 720p webcam for video chats, integrated wireless Bluetooth and multiple USB ports (one 3.0 and two 2.0). “Old school” computer users, however, should be aware this 4.6-pound PC has no optical drive on this laptop, therefore you can’t play or burn CDs or DVDs.


At just $349.99 to start, the ASUS Transformer Book T100 is a versatile product because it’s a petite 10.1-inch laptop to get all your work done, but when you no longer have a need for a keyboard and trackpad, the screen detaches and you can take the touchscreen tablet with you to go. So you might keep the keyboard on a desk at home, at the office or in a dorm room, while the tablet goes with you in your jacket pocket or purse. Other callouts for this 2-in-1 Windows 8.1 hybrid: an Intel quad-core processor, 11-hour battery life, total weight of 2.3 pounds and unlimited ASUS WebStorage to store your files in the cloud (free for one year).

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