Lagging edge notebook computer for less than $500?
September 17, 2008 8:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a lagging edge (can be large, heavy, and have poor battery life) *new* notebook computer, for less than $500. Suggestions?

My sister-in-law wants a new (not used) notebook computer. She is only going to use it at home, but wants to be able to move it off the desk when she's done (so let's rule out a desktop computer). It can be "lagging edge" because she doesn't care about (a) weight or (b) size or (c) battery life. She would like at least a 15 inch monitor, and it needs to be a Windows machine (I'd prefer Windows XP). And yes, I've checked; they do in fact sell notebook computers with 15.4 inch monitors for less than $500 (not counting shipping and tax). I'm interested in suggestions for alternatives - what's available that's really solid, so I won't have to do tech support (or apologize for my recommendation)?
posted by WestCoaster to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Check out dealnews. I can't make any recommendations on what's solid, but the criteria you give mean it'll be pretty easy to find a sub-$500 laptop/notebook.
posted by Gnatcho at 8:16 PM on September 17, 2008

Just check on

There are constant deals on laptops around that price range.
posted by ShortHairyMan at 8:19 PM on September 17, 2008

My husband and I each bought Toshiba laptops this year from Office Depot for less than $500, from their stock in the backroom. I have a 17" screen, but I am on Vista. His was at Christmas time, I bought mine in April. So far, so good! And, skip the warranty plans they offer and use your Amex card - which automatically doubles all warranties that come with the product for free. I truthfully have had better luck with these than my last Dell products, whose hard drives blew within a year.
posted by boulder20something at 8:57 PM on September 17, 2008

If it runs Windows, it's going to need tech support regardless of how well built it is.

That said, Toshiba makes some good laptops and I've seen their L300 offered cheap in various places.
posted by flabdablet at 8:59 PM on September 17, 2008

I poked around and they had the Toshiba Satellite A205-S5814 and A215-S7428 listed for under $500. Vista Home Premium 2 GB RAM.
posted by lukemeister at 9:32 PM on September 17, 2008

I know you checked, but did you look at the small business side? The Vostro 1000 is $399 and you can do a downgrade to xp for $99 more. I bought this system for my sister-in-law (really!) and have not had one tech support call from her in the three months since.
posted by sciatica at 9:34 PM on September 17, 2008

sciatica's suggestion sounds good, but it seems a shame to spend $99 to get XP. For what it's worth, I had major qualms about getting a laptop with Vista, but I've been happy with it. I do have 3 GB of memory, though.

If you choose Vista, 2 GB is probably OK, but 1 GB is not OK.
posted by lukemeister at 9:54 PM on September 17, 2008

I think most laptop manufacturers stopped offering XP without charging extra to downgrade sometime back in June. If price is a factor, it would almost be cheaper to just get Vista with 2 or 3 GB RAM than downgrading.

I just went through the affordable laptop buying phase back in June, so I can tell you that patience is what it's going to take to get the laptop you want. What's on sale and what's available may not be what you're looking for right at the moment. If you're in a hurry to get it now, now, now, you'll have to make some small sacrifices as to configuration/model/brand.

Dealnews is a good place to gather information and compare prices. You should be really diligent about visiting the site, though, because the good deals are often snapped up before the morning's over (much to my consternation!).

I've seen a lot of decent prices on factory refurbished laptops, but I'm not sure if that will be up your alley since you're looking for new equipment. Lenovo has some refurbed Thinkpads, several in your price range with XP. I'd alternately suggest waiting for a sale price on a new Toshiba, as they're the only brand seems better than Dell but still has comparable prices to Dell.
posted by i feel possessed at 10:44 PM on September 17, 2008

If you're willing to go a little higher, newegg has a Lenovo IdeaPad T2390 with 3 GB memory for $599.99 with promo code EMCAKBJBA, and you can get a $50 rebate on top of that.
posted by lukemeister at 5:45 AM on September 18, 2008

WOOT! ( has a side-deal today on a Dell 1.6GHz Laptop for $295. Only good today; the link is at the very top-right of the page.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:14 AM on September 18, 2008

The extra $99 Dell charges technically isn't to downgrade you to XP; it's to upgrade you to a version of Vista that includes a free copy of XP, which Dell kindly installs before they ship you the laptop. You still get Vista discs.
posted by kindall at 6:22 AM on September 18, 2008

Unfortunately, the link is for a Dell with only a 12.1" LCD display screen; otherwise, it would definitely be a great deal.

(I note that I'm very impressed with the thoughtful, useful answers posted so far; every time I return to MetaFilter after months of not reading it, I ask myself why I haven't been back sooner.)
posted by WestCoaster at 6:50 AM on September 18, 2008

There are new (canceled order, not refurb) Lenovo 3000 N200s with 15.4" widescreens for $450.98 at their outlet store right now.

Downsides: Vista installed (no customization options) and only 1GB RAM.
posted by clerestory at 9:31 AM on September 18, 2008

« Older Finding Serenity   |   Component video plus optical audio hook-up for... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.