Cheap Notebook Recommendations
April 16, 2015 6:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to buy a very cheap notebook for simple use around the home. Ideal Price Range is between $150-200. Requirements/Nice-to-have's below.

This will mainly be used for word documents, music playing, internet browsing, PDF viewing(no editing), maybe some Netflix. None of those things will be at the same time. So I'm not looking for a power house. Something simple and serviceable.

1) Cheap. No more than 250 dollars. ( I intend to invest in a Surface Pro tablet later in the year, but would like something cheap to use till then, and then later to take on vacations)
2) Windows environment. I'm not a Mac users, and I'd prefer not go the Chromebook route. Anything Windows 7 and up is fine.
3)Brand-Im open to just about anything, but have had bad experiences with Acer, Dell, and the new Lenovo laptops, so I'd prefer to avoid those. I like Asus(but $$ may preclude), Toshiba has been good to me in the past.
4)This must be a notebook of some sort. I have a tablet, and it has its uses, but I'm looking for something a little easier to type on with a dedicated keyboard.
5)Wireless connectivity

Nice to haves:
1)Touch Screen would be great, but this ups the price and is not required.
2)HDMI out would be good.
3)expandable HDD storage in the way of an SD card/USB

Other notes:
Harddrive size is not a real concern, most of what will be on there will be cloud based, or if possible on SD cards/USB
Refurbished is fine if there are available return/exchange options
Any screen size/resolution is fine. This IS NOT meant to play High def streaming or blu ray quality.
Battery life is not really a concern. This would mainly be used where power is readily available. Obviously more is better, but low battery life would not be a deterrent.

I've been eyeballing this one

But would appreciate input.
posted by Twain Device to Technology (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I watch, and Within any given week there'll be several devices between them which matches your needs, from sub 12" to 17"+ monsters.
posted by straw at 7:08 AM on April 16, 2015

Maybe split the difference?

Instead of getting a Surface Pro later this year, get a Surface 3 in a couple weeks when it comes out. It's $500 + the cost of a type cover, but it's been getting solid reviews.

For $200-250 you're basically at the mercy of places like or cowboom, which means either 1) crappy notebooks that didn't sell or 2) decent notebooks that were refurbed to various levels of success.
posted by Oktober at 7:28 AM on April 16, 2015

I keep coming back to the HP Stream 11, which is a genuinely decent bit of kit for the price.
posted by holgate at 7:38 AM on April 16, 2015

i always check out lenovo outlet... although many things found their can also be found on ebay cheaper...
posted by at 10:28 AM on April 16, 2015

The 10 inch keyboards are cramped enough to make for a lousy experience if you're a touch typist used to a full sized one, so I'd look for something in the 12-13 inch range. The HP stream 13 might be worth a look.

If you want tablet flexibility, the Asus transformer t100 is going for $150 for a returb.
posted by Candleman at 12:45 PM on April 16, 2015

That asus is pretty ok, and so is the stream 11. But this price range is the mainstay of a high quality used machine.

More importantly those budget machines all have REALLY CRAPPY keyboards.

Buy something like this and save some money while you're at it.

Hell, spend a bit more and get something like this(and that seller has TONS specced like that, a lot in nicer shape even) and it'll mop the floor with anything under probably $500 that isn't a very good deal. Certainly all the budget chunky junk 15in laptops with bad screens. There's even some nicer ones, but they don't always come with windows installed(they generally have the key on the bottom, you'd just need to burn your own disc which microsoft will happily guide you through doing).

The stuff you don't say it needs to do is stuff you can easily get a machine capable of in this price range. And you'll get a nice keyboard, and an amount of power/storage performance that makes doing anything nice.

It's the difference between buying a brand new kia, and a 3-4 year old toyota. I'd buy the toyota every time. Cheap machines are worlds better than they used to be, and actually shockingly good now for what they are... but they still can't compete with a quality machine from a couple years ago. Especially in the display, keyboard, and build quality departments.
posted by emptythought at 3:46 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: ASUS 15.6-Inch Dual-Core Celeron 2.16 GHz 4GB RAM 500GB Hard Drive @ Amazon $240

Acer Aspire 15.6-Inch Celeron 2.16 GHz 4GB RAM 500GB Hard Drive @ Amazon $230

Dell Inspiron 14-inch Celeron 2.58 GHz 2GB RAM 500GB Hard Drive @ Dell $200

HP 10.1-inch HD touchscreen 1.33 GHz Intel Atom 2GB RAM 32GB SSD @ Microsoft $200

ASUS 11.6-Inch Intel Atom 1.33GHz 2GB Memory 32GB SSD @ Newegg $200

All of these machines are WIN 8.1. The last two machines are more netbook than notebook. Only the HP 10.1-inch machine from Microsoft is a touch-screen machine, but, again, it is more netbook than notebook. IMO;YMMV.

Really sorry you've had bad luck with Dell -- I have had spectacular luck with them, to the point it'd take a lot to get me to buy a different brand of laptop; they're bombproof. And unreal support from them. Just unbelievable. I know that this is not everyones experience with them but it absolutely is mine, and over long years, too.

My hard-luck stories all point to HP. To the point I'll never, ever have another one of their computers. To the point I'll never have one of their printers, because I'd loathe to give them even a dime for ink.

Anyways, I'd think that any of those first three would be okay -- they're garbage cans, for sure, but they'll get you from point A to point B. The Dell is the least expensive but you're going to want more RAM so it cancels out on price, thus of those three it comes down to brand preference and also 15.6-inch screen or 14-inch screen.

I hope you get one you really like -- new puters are fun!
posted by dancestoblue at 12:26 AM on April 17, 2015

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