Quick housekeeping note: CNET is in the midst of some site updates, which is why the comment system is currently offline and why you didn't receive a Cheapskate newsletter on Friday. (Here's the post in case you missed it.) Pardon the dust; I'm told things should be settling down shortly.
On to business. I'll never buy another laptop that has a traditional hard drive. Having experienced the joys of SSD, I simply can't go back to slower, noisier, hotter drives that consume more power and are subject to mechanical failure.
Yep, from now on, I'm all about solid-state drives, baby! Like this one: Amazon has the Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5-inch SSD for $139.99 shipped. Regular price: $189.99.
One caveat right off the bat: Although you can use the drive in a desktop, this "single unit" version comes without the bracket you're likely to need for mounting it in a larger drive bay. What's more, it lacks the cable you'll need to migrate everything from your existing drive (assuming you're planning to do that). Samsung does supply software for that purpose, so I recommend getting an external drive enclosure like this $12.99 Sabrent job. Then you can more or less follow Samsung's installation instructions (PDF). When you're done, you can keep using your old drive as an external drive.
Beyond that, all you need to know is that this 2.5-inch drive employs a SATA-III interface, works with PC, Mac, and Linux systems, and comes with a 3-year warranty.
Better still, the user ratings are through the roof, both at Amazon and at Best Buy (where the drive is on sale for the same price, but with sales tax tacked on). Amazon's average from over 1,400 buyers: 4.7 stars out of 5. Best Buy's nearly 50 reviewers gave it the exact same rating.
Needless to say, everybody loves this drive. It's blazing-fast. It makes no noise and consumes less power than a mechanical hard drive. And it'll never make the dreaded "click of death" (which is not to say that an SSD can't fail, merely that it can't fail in that particular way).
The only potential downside is if 250GB of space won't cut it. One option: Use a cloud-storage service like Bitcasa to supplement your local storage. Another: Use that newly claimed old hard drive to offload your photos, videos, and other space-hogging stuff.
Bonus deal: One of my all-time favorite mobile chargers is on sale again. Today only, and while supplies last, DailySteals has the MyCharge Summit 3000 mobile charger for $18 shipped. It packs a 3,000mAh battery, recharges by plugging directly into a wall outlet, and offers pop-out connectors for powering Apple 30-pin and Micro-USB devices. (There's also a standard USB port for charging everything else.) I got three of these last time when they were refurbs, and they arrived promptly and in great condition. This time around, they're new!
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