Owning a portable powerhouse of a lap-dwelling machine may be a bit economically out-of-reach for some, but there's never been a better time to get a decently-performing laptop for a great value. Just follow these tips:
Try a Netbook. If your computing needs are low, or even basic (web browsing, office doc work, and not too much need for heavy-duty graphics or HD video), Netbooks offer a great package for very little money. Mainly equipped with Intel Atom processors and running Windows XP, they're not so great a multitasking, but they'll do the work that most computers handled five years ago with ease. Low-end Netbooks are where the best value's at, with some coming in at under $300, like Dell's Mini 10v. Some are on sale online for even less, or are subsidized by cell carriers (the HP Mini 1151nr costs $199). You will, however, need to sign up for a wireless 3G data plan for a subsidized Netbook, which will cost more in the long run than simply looking for free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Thin-and-light laptops are getting cheaper. It was just a year and a half ago when the MacBook Air cost an arm and a leg for super-light computing power. While the Air is more affordable now, there are a variety of similarly-powered machines running lower-cost CULV processors just hitting the market that cost even less. MSI's X340 is practically a Windows version of the MacBook Air, with an equally good form factor (but made of plastic instead of aluminum), but costs $800.
Leave off the extras. Go for the bare-bones configuration unless you really need more RAM or a larger hard drive -- those can sometimes be added later, usually for less money.… Read more