Cheap laptop needed
August 30, 2014 4:41 AM   Subscribe

I am in desperate need of a new laptop but I don't want to spend much money. I need the laptop for editing PDF documents.

I download about 50 PDFs each week (student papers, most just a few pages of text) and use Adobe Acrobat to put comments in each file.

Can Chromebook do this?

Is there anything out there for less than $300 that can handle this type of use?
posted by mzwz to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For this, I would buy a used laptop. You can usually find decent deals on old Lenovos on Craigslist - I see $150 setup all the time.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:56 AM on August 30, 2014

I'm seconding the Craigslist suggestion from oceanjesse. I've had good success buying used computer stuff off of Craigslist. You do have to be careful, though. Before you hand over any money, make sure you turn on the laptop and verify that it's working.
posted by alex1965 at 5:02 AM on August 30, 2014

It looks like you can do what you want to do with a chromebook. I bought a brand new chromebook for $250. about three years ago and it's still working perfectly.
posted by mareli at 5:14 AM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Any cheap laptop you can find will do this. I have a shitty Dell that I bought for $225 on closeout at WalMart, and I use it in the way you've described all the time. Corral your local big box store ads, find the one with the cheapest laptop, and go buy it.
posted by MeghanC at 12:14 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you must buy new, you might check out Signature laptops from the Microsoft Store. They've got a number of options for under $300, and they don't come with all the third party crapware that most laptops (especially at this price point) do. I think that I'd trust a gently used Lenovo, esp. a ThinkPad, a bit more than the cheap hardware you get at the sub-$300 price point, though.
posted by Aleyn at 12:23 PM on August 30, 2014

Sign up for the e-blast news at They often have new or refurbished laptops for less than $300.00. I agree that any laptop can do what you want.
posted by H21 at 12:50 PM on August 30, 2014

I got a Lenovo from It's a previously leased laptop, refurbished, @ 500 for a good laptop. Win 8, but they also have Win 7. I prefer to get a business-model laptop; more durable.
posted by theora55 at 12:58 PM on August 30, 2014

I've had very good luck buying used laptops on craigslist. You can get a perfectly functional laptop for $200 and a decent one for $300. Look for IBM/lenovo thinkpads, they are a bit bulky but widely regarded as indestructible.
posted by zug at 4:33 PM on August 30, 2014

Acer has a few models out that are under $300, even closer to $200 on certain auction sites. For what you need it for, these will work great. If you are fine with a used laptop, shop around pawn shops, said auction sites, and craigslist. Pawn shops should test their laptops so they will know if something doesn't work, like a usb or something. For what you're looking to use it for, it doesn't sound like you need a super high CPU or RAM, so you don't need a top-of-the-line laptop that can handle gaming and having 20 tabs open in your browser and having 10 programs open all at once. I just bought a new laptop myself so I've done a LOT of browsing and I think, for your budget and needs, an Acer is your best best.

If you do choose to buy off of craiglist, make sure you test all the capabilities before you buy it.

You can also ask about refurbished laptops at your local electronics store or other stores that sell them (like wal-mart), as a refurbished laptop could save you a lot of money.
posted by atinna at 8:23 PM on August 30, 2014

Yes, I agree with used. When my laptop died last year, I found a local computer repair shop which sold Dell Latitudes for around $300. Score!

Craigslist has a lot of options, usually, though can be trickier to verify / get a warranty. If it were me, I'd try to find a computer repair place that offers used / refurbished models with a warranty.
posted by mermaidcafe at 12:21 AM on August 31, 2014

Lenovo and Dell outlets. Got mine from there. Just keep an eye on them, you get some amazing savings
posted by jellyjam at 6:13 PM on August 31, 2014

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