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Thin, light, and 1080p laptop
January 7, 2014 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I'd like a thin and light 1080p laptop. It does not need to be powerful, but it does need to be cheap. I'd like to spend about $300, but it must be under $500. The perfect machine would be something like a chromebook, but with a higher res screen than the ones I'm aware of. The resolution requirement trumps the thin and light requirements.

That's pretty much it. Its only task will be text editing and web browsing. Exynos5-level processor, or one of the newest atoms, would be plenty of power. Linux, Chrome OS, or Windows is fine, but Android isn't really.

Does such a beast exist? Any deal sites that I might should camp out at that might eventually have a bulky, but 1080p, laptop for around that price range?
posted by jsturgill to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am monitoring the Dell Outlet website since a while for a deal, and 1080p laptops are a no show until you reach the $800++ range. The same is true for new devices.
posted by nostrada at 11:21 AM on January 7


There's a smattering of cheap-o Asuses around $600 or so if you hit up newegg/amazon, but you may be better served just going on ebay or trolling a bestbuy/microcenter for open box specials.
posted by Oktober at 11:24 AM on January 7


I was shopping for a high-res cheap laptop under $500 about 6 months ago and could never find such a thing, and that was without the thin+light requirement. If you try to camp deal sites pay close attention to the listed resolution and be sure to click through to the actual listed specs on the store's site. Some of the more popular deal sites seem to completely ignore resolution as a spec altogether. I ended up getting a refurbished HP EliteBook with a 1600 x 900 reso.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 11:25 AM on January 7


Yeah, there's a ton of Chromebooks that "support 1080p video"... on a 1366x768 screen
posted by Oktober at 11:28 AM on January 7


Also, you say android/iOS isn't ideal, but you may be able to find a pretty decent tablet + keyboard case in your price range.
posted by Oktober at 11:28 AM on January 7


Blech. For anyone else who's reading this with some more flexibility in their budget, the original surface pro 128GB version is $599 on the microsoft site. I was hoping that would bring used prices down to ~$350 or $400, but that doesn't seem to be the case yet. I think the surface is pretty sweet.
posted by jsturgill at 11:35 AM on January 7


Sorry to say, in that price range you are looking almost exclusively at 1366x768 garbage screens. It's only very recently that we've started to see a variety of 1080p laptop models at any price.

Very occasionally something interesting turns up on outlet.lenovo.com or dell.com/outlet. But even then, probably looking at $750-800 for a scratch and dent. I managed to score a 1600x900 Lenovo Yoga 13 for <$500, but they figured out they were underpricing with a quickness and I've never seen the deal repeated.

You might get lucky with an old Thinkpad W series or HP Elitebook on eBay. They're heavy, and models in your price range are getting pretty old at this point, but there were a few 1080 screens back in the day. Here's one, if you're comfortable installing your own OS.
posted by zjacreman at 11:36 AM on January 7


Also the Del Venue 11 Pro tablet... the bottom tier is $499. Still too much for what you get, though. Particularly when compared to the surface.
posted by jsturgill at 12:03 PM on January 7


Ah! The HP Omni 100 tablet has a full HD screen & starts at $399. A little better.
posted by jsturgill at 12:07 PM on January 7


HP Omni 10, I mean. And its screen is actually 1900x1200.
posted by jsturgill at 12:19 PM on January 7


One option would be to buy a used laptop on eBay with a broken screen (one that was available with 1920x1080 screens) and then replace the screen with a compatible 1920x1080 panel. You could probably do that within your budget, but of course you wouldn't end up with a new laptop -- it would be a used laptop that had been damaged and then repaired by you.
posted by Scientist at 2:08 PM on January 7


You could look for a refurb Nexus 10, get a bluetooth keyboard case, and put Linux on it. You might be able to do so with the Asus Transformer as well, though that looks less developed due to Asus not being friendly to unlocking the devices. If you're willing to deal with IE and a limited selection of software, the Surface [RT] 2 may be priced attractively for you in the near future.

You're asking a lot for your price range so I'd at least consider getting something non-1080p and making due for a year until the prices come down.
posted by Candleman at 9:51 PM on January 7


I'll go ahead and admit defeat. I'll be picking up an HP Chromebook 14 from WalMart shortly. It has the common, shit resolution, but 4 GB of RAM and 200 MB of free 4G data each month for two years. The processor and build quality are apparently great for Chromebooks and fine for what I want. It's too practical and cheap to pass up.

I did find several core i3 laptop options (including a bundle at best buy that had 6GB of ram!) for $399, but I'd be sacrificing build quality.

The 11" version is ARM and has an IPS screen for $280. It also charges from a standard micro usb port, which is a nice touch. I'm jealous of its weight but am going to prioritize the free data, full HDMI, much longer battery life, slightly better processor, etc. of the larger model for now. The 11" is almost there.
posted by jsturgill at 11:36 AM on January 8


Fwiw: From what I've gleamed if you want to run linux on a chromebook then avoid the ARM's.
posted by wcfields at 12:56 PM on January 13


The HP chromebook 14 uses the latest haswell (low-end) processor. I think it's branded celeron, though I don't recall.

Crouton actually makes chromebooks compelling solutions for most things. It allows you to set up multiple linuxes running on the bare hardware, running under chroot. I can switch to Xubuntu with a keypress.

The hard drive can also be upgraded, which is an added bonus. There's a Costco version that's the same except it comes with a 32gb SSD drive for $20 more.

I still feel like I overpaid for the hardware, though, and that pisses me off. It's a poor screen and cheap guts. If it cost a lot to make it's their own fault for going with a non-standard keyboard (surely nothing else about it is exceptional or expensive). I really should be getting more for $350. But it'll have to do for now. At least the tactile experience of it is pleasant (well-textured plastic).
posted by jsturgill at 8:16 AM on January 14


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