Yet another "what laptop should I buy" question
March 29, 2019 6:36 AM   Subscribe

What laptop should I buy: budget edition. Refurbished, chromebook, something else...?

I'm in the UK and have a budget of max £300 so - not that much to play with. I've looked into chromebooks but I'd like to be able to work offline, which they're not really designed for. I've been looking at refurbished laptops (something like this refurbished Yoga, or this Thinkpad?) but I'm not sure what will actually hold up. This is for day to day use - think Word and online stuff, nothing fancy, but I've been burned by cheap laptops before (I currently have an HP Stream which is basically unusable at this point) and would like something that's going to hold up.
posted by the cat's pyjamas to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I am using a Thinkpad I got from ebay. They are workhorses, easily repaired. That one has good specs. You might be able to get a better price, but, in general, the refurb Thinkpad option has been good to me. Thinkpads are business-class computers, designed to be repair-able, with better quality components. With cheap new laptops, you get just barely what you pay for.

Mine got dropped by somebody (not me, for a change) and seemed dead, has been on a shelf for several months, but I fired it up the other day before pulling the hard drive to get data. It started up just fine and is now in use for streaming movies in my bedroom.

I looked on for Thinkpad T440 and found cheaper options, though with fewer add-ons. The one you linked has MS Office and 8 gb RAM.
posted by theora55 at 7:36 AM on March 29, 2019

I've generally had very good experience with refurbished laptops, and usually recommend T or x series thinkpads. That said, I'd avoid the 440-series Thinkpads in particular because it has a terrible trackpad, just utterly awful. From that site, I'd probably go for the t450 or the x220.
posted by Poldo at 7:37 AM on March 29, 2019

If you're just using a word processor, you can definitely use a Chromebook offline.

The problem I've noticed in Canada is that the price point for Chromebooks has crept up. They aren't that cheap anymore, compared to five years ago.

As well, with laptops, there is typically a lower price point with lower specs (no SSD, larger and heavier form factor, lower performance) and then a higher price point, with nothing much in between.

I'm also looking for a new budget device to replace a Chromebook that just died (I dropped it). Chromebooks work well for me as a second computer to take to meetings or work away from my main computer, but, like I said, I haven't found anything at a cheaper price point, and so I'm consider budget WinOS laptops.

I saw this Lenovo Ideapad the other day. While it's at your price point, it may be hard to find in stores, but perhaps you can find it online.

This Asus Vivobook has exactly the same specs and should sell at the same price point if you can find it.
posted by JamesBay at 7:37 AM on March 29, 2019

I love my refurbished Thinkpad, a T420. It cost me $250.00 a couple of years ago, and it's built like a tank. I wiped the hard disk after I got it and installed Linux. The Wifi is easy to set up; a USB-powered Verizon Jetpack gives me easy net access.
posted by Agave at 7:45 AM on March 29, 2019

A few months ago I bought a small Asus laptop running Windows 10, new, at PC World, for £140.

Unless you are planning to immediately reformat it and install a minimal Linux build, or are after a deliberately constrained machine to cut down on opportunities to procrastinate, don't.

'So it's a burner laptop?' a friend asked. 'Only in the sense I want to set fire to it,' I said.
posted by Hogshead at 10:36 AM on March 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm sitting in front of a Thinkpad T570 and a Yoga 2 (if you get a 2, make sure it's a refurb, these all had terrible original display hardware that fails in annoying ways) and I like them both just fine. I run SQL server on both of them - it's not doing much, but it runs fine when I use it. I routinely have multiple spreadsheets open and it starts to bog down around 6 or 8 if they're huge. They're very nice. I probably like the Thinkpad better because the Yoga has a shiny screen and its like trying to use a mirror as a monitor.

I use external keyboards and mice on them so I can't speak much to the trackpads. They work when I need to use them.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:13 PM on March 29, 2019

I think I have just the one for you.

The latest Acer Swift 1 model.

Actual useable screen (1920x1080), very light, and great battery life. Juuuust enough power to do what you need it to do without frustration, and you can make it better by slapping a cheap sata m.2. drive in there. Windows S that it comes with is an annoyance that can be freely upgraded.
posted by hypercomplexsimplicity at 4:19 PM on March 29, 2019

Response by poster: I just wanted to say a belated thank you to everyone who answered this question. In the end I hunted around a bit and got a refurbished Thinkpad at a bit over £200 and it's suiting me really well so far. I was a little resistant to the Chromebook option for no other reason than I like to at least *pretend* I'm not in the Googleverse all the time, although they look like a good option as well.

Thanks everyone for helping me think it through.
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 7:17 AM on May 24, 2019

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