Best Buy has listed a 15-inch Acer laptop with relatively robust specifications for $299. But try getting your hands on one.
Though listed among the "new arrivals" on Best Buy's Web site, it is currently not available at stores or online. But there is anecdotal evidence of its existence. Very-recent user comments indicate that people have purchased the laptop and other stores, such as Wal-Mart Stores and Amazon (which shows it in stock), list it at a higher price.
And the specifications? An AMD Athlon 64 processor, 15.6-inch WXGA display, 2GB DDR2 memory, DVD-RW drive, 160GB hard disk drive, ATI Radeon Xpress 1200 graphics, 802.11b/g wireless, 10/100 Ethernet LAN, and Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic Edition. Pretty close to mainstream-laptop hardware with the exception of the low-end AMD-ATI silicon and the older "g" wireless.
When contacted by phone, a Best Buy sales representative said the reseller has fielded a number of calls already about the laptop and confirmed that it was currently unavailable.
By comparison, what do you get for $299 when buying a diminutive Netbook? An Asus Eee PC at this price comes with an Atom N270 processor, 1GB memory, 10.1-inch screen, 160GB hard disk drive, Intel 950 graphics, a Webcam, no optical drive, and Windows XP.
And there are good deals on other, more-mainstream laptops at Best Buy. A Toshiba Satellite is listed at $349 with an Intel Celeron processor, 15.4-inch display, 2GB DDR2 memory, DVD-RW drive, 160GB hard disk drive, Intel 4500MHD graphics, 802.11b/g wireless, 10/100 Ethernet LAN, and Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic Edition.