Brace yourself parents: tablets are about to be cheap as chips, as Toshiba join Pendo with its own $199 tablet.

My my, how times have changed. Remember when computers used to be expensive?

These days, computers are gadgets every student needs, and now that the cost of Windows is dropping from a manufacturer point of view, big players like Toshiba are joining in with cut-cost computers to appeal to students, parents, and people who just don’t want to fork out an arm and a leg to get basic work and web surfing done.

The first of Toshiba’s new low-cost machines will join the Encore range of tablets, bringing Windows 8.1 to a 7 inch size, delivering a quad-core Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB storage, and a microSD to raise that storage size if you need to (which you probably will given how much space Windows takes up).

Like the PendoPad announced recently, a one year subscription to Microsoft Office comes pre-installed here, and there is even a light amount of photography possible, with a 2 megapixel shooter on the back and a lower resolution camera up front.

Designed as a budget option, the tablet doesn’t come with a high resolution display, boasting 1024×600 resolution in the small 7 inch size, but it will come with a price that sits well below that of the Apple iPad Mini, and even quite a few Android tablets, running at $199, which should appeal to parents keen not to spend too much.

A keyboard isn’t included, though we’re Toshiba tells us that the Encore Mini will “fit into any 7 inch Windows or Android tablet case,” so that’s at least a positive thing for anyone keen to type on the tablet while protecting it at the same time.

That’s the Encore Mini, though, and it won’t be the only option Toshiba releases, with two 11.6 inch laptops also on the way, starting from $420.

These machines are the Satellite L10 and L10W, similar laptops that offer that 11 inch high-definition screens with 500GB hard drives, Windows 8, and Intel chips.

The two L10 models are very different, though, with the $420 L10 (above) offering a basic 11 inch laptop experience with no touchscreen, Windows 8.1, two USB ports, and a proper keyboard, while the L10W (below) turns that machine into a tablet, making the 11.6 inch screen into a full touch display and including a hinge that allows the screen to flip around just like the multi-angle hinged laptops we’ve seen this year.

“Mobility means different things to different people, and Toshiba’s newest Encore tablet and our range of multi-mode Satellite notebooks reflect this,” said Anthony Geronimo, Consumer Product Marketing Manager for Toshiba in Australia.

“In developing these adaptable Windows devices, we’ve created an affordable range that enables you to do whatever you want to do, wherever you are without the need to compromise on design, performance or innovation. It’s mobility, as the individual chooses it.”

Pricing for the Satellite L10 series starts at $420 for the L10 without a touchscreen, while the Satellite L10W starts at $699, with the Encore Mini coming in at $199. Availability, though, is from today, so you might even get to see them before we review them.

Will Toshiba's Satellite L10W be a star like in this image? Only time -- and a review -- will tell.