Laptop shopping
September 26, 2012 9:15 AM   Subscribe

What's the decent, cheap laptop to buy these days?

I have a 5-year-old Gateway laptop that's just about had it. I do all sorts of fancy computer stuff at work, but at home all I really need is a netbook-type thing, but with a full-sized keyboard and reasonably-sized screen. You know, surfing the web, watching a few Youtube videos, nothing fancy, no gaming or graphics or such.

I'm seeing lots of units around $350, which is fine, but I could be talked into something higher, if it's justified. I'll likely keep it until it wears out. I could use a new printer, too.

What's the deal right now?
posted by MrMoonPie to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What about a tablet with an aftermarket keyboard?
posted by BobbyVan at 9:28 AM on September 26, 2012

Buy a T series Thinkpad unless you really need the smaller size of a real netbook.
posted by wierdo at 9:35 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I moved to a tablet for this type of activity. Google Nexus 7 is my choice and is sweet but obviously Apple's I-Pad is the more expensive and larger variety. For emails, status updates, etc. the keyboard is more than adequate. The form factor is perfect and is opening up new worlds with the interesting apps on board.
posted by JJ86 at 9:36 AM on September 26, 2012

And if you need a keyboard, there's a host of bluetooth options available.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:37 AM on September 26, 2012

I'm not sure a tablet meets the "reasonably-sized screen" desideratum. Maybe MrMoonPie could specify the minimum screen size a little more precisely?
posted by yoink at 10:18 AM on September 26, 2012

Asus and Lenovo (Thinkpads) are some of the better brands on the big list of laptop manufacturers. I'm seconding the recommendations for a tablet however, as they're fairly inexpensive and would more than cover your base requirements. And if you absolutely need a keyboard, there's a wide variety of Bluetooth capable ones on the market.
posted by samsara at 10:19 AM on September 26, 2012

I'm really liking the Nexus 7 for reading and catching up on RSS feeds and such, but if "full sized keyboard" is on the requirement list, I would really not recommend that route.

I use the hell out of my Thinkpad, and the keyboard is so good that I've actually got a USB one for my desktop machine.
posted by brennen at 10:28 AM on September 26, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the input so far.

I'm not sure, myself, what I mean by "reasonably-sized" screen--I want to avoid a little bitty netbook screen. My current laptop has a 14-inch monitor, and is rather small for my aging eyes. But a brighter, sharper, more modern screen could be just fine at that size.

I hadn't considered a tablet--I'd rather do without too many peripheral devices, but, indeed, I am willing to compromise on just about all the criteria.

OK, from where? There's a big, nice Microcenter nearby, but I'm happy to order online, too. Or is everyone about the same on these?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:42 AM on September 26, 2012

I also love Thinkpads. They're crazy robust and more user-serviceable than other laptops. Also, I dig the little red nipple pointer thing in the keyboard. This one (factory refurb) seems pretty nice.
posted by exogenous at 10:44 AM on September 26, 2012

I've been happy with my Lenovo G575 (purchased here) which cost about 350. Man, I remember the days of $1100 laptops.
posted by cereselle at 11:46 AM on September 26, 2012

Typed from the nexus 7...

The nice thing about this tablet is that even though the screen is small, it can be resized easily.
posted by JJ86 at 3:29 PM on September 26, 2012

Best answer: The laptop on today looks like a pretty good deal
posted by exogenous at 7:35 AM on September 27, 2012

Unfortunately, I don't know enough about computers to comment on its actual computing features (someone else handled that part of the shopping research), but I've had my Acer Aspire One since January and love it. I shopped for a netbook or an inexpensive laptop for about a month and finally settled on this one because of the combination of features, size, battery life and price.

It is technically a netbook, but the screen and keyboard size are perfect (11.6 inch screen). It feels like a small laptop to me, and I haven't used our home desktop computer since I've had it.

The battery life is fantastic--It stays charged long enough that I can take it to school and not worry about finding a desk with an outlet nearby.

Check out the link for its actual computing power. Anecdotally, I haven't had any issues with it. I use it to browse the internet, write papers, play music, occasionally watch videos. I'm not crazy about the "look," of it but it has served me quite well so far.
posted by a.steele at 9:02 AM on September 27, 2012

Response by poster: That looks like a winner, exogenous.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:08 AM on September 27, 2012

Response by poster: Followup--got it, it's great. Thanks!
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:54 AM on October 5, 2012

Ninite is a nice way to install stuff on a new computer
posted by exogenous at 8:29 AM on October 5, 2012

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