Netbooks sucked. I never liked them. They were cramped, clunky, underpowered, and overpriced. But Chromebooks? Different story.
Today only, and while supplies last (big caveat, here -- I fear these will sell out rapidly), Woot has the refurbished HP Chromebook 14 for $179.99, plus $5 for shipping. That's for the white model with 2GB of RAM. If you want 4GB of RAM and your choice of white, turquoise, or peach, the price jumps to just $199.99.
Whichever you choose, you'll get a seriously sweet bonus: built-in HSPA+ 4G, and 200MB of monthly data courtesy of T-Mobile -- at no extra charge. That's, like, amazeballs. Show me another sub-$200 laptop (or even tablet) with that kind of largesse.
True to its name, a Chromebook runs Google's Chrome OS, which, to my thinking, offers several advantages over Windows. It runs a lot quicker on lesser hardware, hence decent performance from a mere Intel Celeron processor and 2-4GB of RAM. It's significantly less likely to succumb to viruses and other security threats (except for phishing, which is platform-agnostic). And check out some of the cool, new Chrome OS features Google just announced.
A lot of the bargain-basement Chromebooks have small screens and cramped keyboards, but the HP sports a 14-inch display -- and, accordingly, a spacious set of keys. It's no lightweight at just over four pounds, but that larger size also allows for more expansion: two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0, and an HDMI output.
As for storage, you get only a 16GB SSD, but there's an SD card slot and the aforementioned USB for adding more.
CNET hasn't reviewed this model, so let me refer you to this deep dive over at Computerworld. Verdict: an impressive entry-level laptop -- for $349. At $200 or less? This is tough to pass up. Your thoughts?
Bonus deal: Game time! While "supplies" last, Bundle Stars and PC Gamer are giving away Steam keys for SpaceChem, a popular puzzle game that normally sells for, well, just $1.99. But free is free! The catch: You have to "like" PC Gamer on Facebook to get the key, which is provided instantly. Then fire up your Steam client to redeem it.