Quickly need laptop for student
December 31, 2014 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Quickly need a new laptop with Word loaded for a student.

I'm asking for a college student: we're in the SF bay area and within a couple of days she needs a laptop. Can be Mac or PC. And it must be loaded with Office...particularly Word. The budget is $700. Best if it were new, but used is a possibility.

Tried Costco, great prices w software included but configuring & shipping will take "12-15 business days". Best Buy seems to have Office loaded on a subscription basis, not what the student prefers.

She is hesitant about buying it on Craigslist, safety & reliability are factors.

Any other ideas??
posted by artdrectr to Shopping (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Check with her college's IT department regarding Microsoft Office -- many colleges have a lower rate available for Office (for some it is provided to students for free) and often this can be accessed online with no wait. If this is the case, you can spend less on the laptop as you won't need it to come with Word pre-loaded.
posted by telegraph at 8:56 AM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]

Have her check with her college IT staff to find out if they have any licenses for Office. Where I work every student gets it paid for and staff can get a "Home Use Program" copy for like $10.

Also, if she does go the Mac route she can easily create .doc files using Pages or Google docs.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:57 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

For the meanwhile, does her school's library lend laptops?
posted by teremala at 8:58 AM on December 31, 2014

Office is a digital product that you buy and download online. YOU load it. You're not going to find a computer that already has anything more than a demo version.

Office Home and Student 2013, $139. Literally go buy any laptop, get on the internet, go to that link, do the shopping cart thing, download at the end and install.

Possibly her school has a discount, but the time it takes to find and use it may not be worth waiting if it's that urgent.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:02 AM on December 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

About six months ago we picked up a Microsoft Surface RT at Best Buy. With keyboard it was still less than $500 - and came loaded with the Office Suite.
posted by kbar1 at 9:04 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Get a Chromebook off of Amazon and spring for next-day shipping. Google Drive exports to Office formats, and you can get an Acer C720 with 32GB of solid-state storage for less than $250, with a free access code to 100GB of cloud storage on Google Drive.

I've used an Acer C720 for all of my writing since May. It's a wonderful little machine, and I have no trouble recommending it.
posted by starbreaker at 9:04 AM on December 31, 2014

Office is a digital product that you buy and download online. YOU load it. You're not going to find a computer that already has anything more than a demo version.

Not true. The Surface 2 (no longer called the Surface RT, kbar1) has FULL OFFICE - mine was C$449 but you have to spend another $100 for the keyboard, but there are better deals right now.

Chromebooks are ridiculous- get a cheap windows laptop and install Chrome on it and you can then install full office. Do not get a Chromebook for somebody who wants Office. It's just a cheap laptop with nothing but a browser- horrible.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:13 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Okay, some computers come with Office on them, but if they don't you can have it in 10 minutes on any Windows computer you can buy new today so you do not have to buy something just because it has Office on it.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:18 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

More detail and urgency: she is attending an off-campus seminar within a few days for 2 weeks. She needs the computer during that time. No access to campus facilities until she returns.

Surface vs laptop? hmm, we need to do some research.
Thanks for the great answers so far!
posted by artdrectr at 9:29 AM on December 31, 2014

In the Bay Area, Fry's is also an option. I have not been to their bricks-and-mortar store but online they have good prices and might have more options that Best Buy does.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:30 AM on December 31, 2014

I'd look into the HP Stream.


It's a ~$200 laptop, with a full version of Windows, with a year's subscription to Office included.

It's basically Microsoft's response to Chromebooks, and it looks really good from reviews and the one I saw in a store.
posted by chrispy108 at 9:34 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Did you go to Costco in person? I bought my last personal laptop there and I walked out of the warehouse with it the same day.
posted by notjustthefish at 9:43 AM on December 31, 2014

This is a smaller laptop, which would be good for traveling, and it comes with Office installed:


It's $299 at Microcenter and $249 at Office Max/Office Depot.
posted by MariJo at 9:50 AM on December 31, 2014

I literally just did this as a Christmas present for my nephew. It was this laptop. I bought the $10 Microsoft Office home use license through my work. The whole thing cost less than $220 including tax and shipping.
posted by domo at 9:51 AM on December 31, 2014

Agree with above that you should worry about the laptop and then buy Office separately. You go to Microsoft's website (scroll down for "one time purchase"). Her school might even have some online purchasing deal to get Office cheaper.
posted by radioamy at 9:52 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

The HP Stream 11 isn't anything fancy, but satisfies "cheap, Windows/Office, works", and for $200 + tax, it's not a bad gamble. There's one sitting next to me right now that was bought for just that purpose. The buy-in-a-shop versions will probably have some bloaty crapware that you'll want to uninstall, unless you can find a Microsoft retail store and get the Signature edition.
posted by holgate at 10:46 AM on December 31, 2014

We bought a cheap-o Toshiba at Office Depot. This one is now $250. I downloaded Microsoft Office 2010 onto it based on my company's licenses for $15. This is really common, her school may offer it, YOUR employer may offer it.

You can go to Microsoft Store, I put in San Francisco State University (go Gators!) and you can get Microsoft Office 365 for anywhere from $62.50 to $126. University edition is $80. See which one makes the most sense.

You don't have to have a physical copy, you can download it from the web. It's super easy.

You can have this done and sorted within an hour.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:53 AM on December 31, 2014

This is super easy.
  1. Buy a laptop from a local retailer for less than $600 of your budget. I'd recommend getting one from a Microsoft store if there's one in your area, as it won't be loaded with crapware that you don't need if you do.
  2. Buy and download the version of office that works for your student on the laptop. If you think the student might have access to a low-cost/free version of office through the university, you can use the free Office 365 Personal trial for about a month, and if you need it for longer, they have a monthly subscription plan, I believe.
  3. There is no step 3.

posted by Aleyn at 11:15 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Microsoft used to release Microsoft Office Starter 2010, which was a free limited version with just Word and Excel and ads. Microsoft no longer has it available for download, but purely via Google I found the installer available for download someplace else.
posted by AzraelBrown at 12:52 PM on December 31, 2014

On the subject of Surface vs regular laptop, The surface has a lot of nice features, but you can only install software from the MS store. I would lean towards a regular laptop where you will have more flexibility. This might be important for school if the student requires any special software for class.
posted by nalyd at 12:58 PM on December 31, 2014

If I was going to buy a laptop today with a limited budget, i'd go to Dell Refurbished. I'd start looking for something in the $400-500 range. None of them ship with Word, that I know of, but with a cheap enough laptop, buying the software's still in your budget, as linked above.

But wait, there's money to be saved! RetailMeNot has great coupon deals all the time for Dell Refurb. Right now there's 40% off items priced over $350-- coupon good through the weekend. I buy these for work, and I've not yet been unhappy with the quality or condition. I usually install Windows 64-bit, though, and add memory ASAP, but the typical 4GB of RAM is the most you can use with the 32-bit Win7 that comes with all that I've gotten.

> The surface has a lot of nice features, but you can only install software from the MS store. I would lean towards a regular laptop where you will have more flexibility.

Hmm, most things should be installable on Surface Pro from USB (3.0 and lower) or over the network. The Surface LE, which as the ARM processor, is not compatible with a lot of off-the-shelf software, and so the MS Store restriction makes more sense-- that's also the reason it ships with the ARM version of MS Office. Surface Pro has the same processor architecture as regular PCs, so anything should be installable. Surface Pro is a nice little machine, and I think an excellent laptop replacement, though definitely too pricy to be thought of as a tablet computer. I'd strongly consider getting one if I was in the market for a laptop.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:32 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone for your input. I've been a Mac guy for 30 years, never touched a Window, so this has really been some odd research.

I did as notjustthefish suggested, walked in to the nearby Costco this morning. Found a Toshiba Satellite L55 on sale that has everything this student wanted (err, needed. She wanted an MB Air).
The MS store provides a small discount to students, so downloaded the app from there.

Some of the answers got us thinking about tablets vs laptops. She preferred the big screen, and the clean design on this one.

All worked out on budget. Yay
posted by artdrectr at 4:28 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

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