Back-to-school steal: A loaded Acer laptop for $299.99
How much laptop can you buy for under $300? You'd be surprised. The top-rated Acer AS5552-7819 has everything most students--and regular people--need.
Does your spawn need a new laptop for college, high school, or even middle school? Heck, do you need a new laptop for everyday life? Either way, I've got just the system.
While supplies last (and they may not last long), Frys.com has the Acer Aspire AS5552-7819 15.6-inch laptop for $299.99, plus sales tax in a handful of states. If you live near a Fry's Electronics store, you can pick up the Acer for free; otherwise, plan on about $10 for shipping.
Update: As I predicted, the Aspire is now sold out--at least online. You may still be able to find it in your local Fry's.
Traditionally, any laptop priced under $300 will come with a weak, single-core processor, limited RAM, and smallish hard drive. Not so the Aspire.
Instead, it's packing a 3GHz AMD Phenom II dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive. An ATI Radeon HD 4250 processor handles the graphics, though it does borrow 256MB of system memory. (That's both good and bad; overall system performance might dip a bit, but graphics and video should be smooth.)
Everything else is about what you'd expect: Super-Multi DVD drive, 1.3-megapixel Web cam, three USB ports, an HDMI output, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Acer backs the Aspire with a one-year warranty.
The system weighs 5.7 pounds, and Acer promises up to 3.5 hours of runtime from its six-cell battery. That's not great, but it's fairly typical for a system like this.
CNET hasn't reviewed the Aspire AS5552-7819, but check out the 39 user reviews over at Newegg (where the system sells for $379.99). All but one of them give the system four or five stars, with two-thirds opting for the latter. It's rare to see such universally high praise for what many would consider an entry-level laptop.
Me, I consider this a very nicely equipped system for those with everyday computing needs: Web browsing, word processing, e-mail, casual games, and so on. And for $299.99, there's just no better deal to be had. Not today, anyway.
Bonus deal: Want to endow your iPod Touch with 3G goodness? Virgin Mobile now offers the ZTE Peel 3200 3G case for just $29.99. (It also acts as a mobile hot spot for one other device: laptop, iPad, etc.) Now for the bad news: although you can get no-contract service for just $20 per month, that's good for only 500MB of data. Pretty stingy, Virgin Mobile! Anyway, here's when it was originally offered by Sprint (and priced at $79.99).