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Just a couple days ago, a friend asked me for an inexpensive laptop recommendation. He needed something suitable for two primary tasks: Skype calls and podcast recording. Given that I just been a guest on his podcast, I was more than happy to provide some advice.
That advice started with this: the Lenovo Ideapad 100s, which you may recall was my pick for the best cheap laptop of 2015. Months later, it's still largely unrivaled in the sub-$200 laptop category.
Today, and for a limited time, forget largely unrivaled -- it's the cheap-laptop champ: While supplies last, Best Buy (via eBay) has the Lenovo Ideapad 100s 11.6-inch laptop for $129.99 shipped, plus tax.
First things first: This is not technically new, but rather in the "new other" category (which I'm guessing here amounts to "open-box"). The condition is described as "excellent," and the system includes two key elements: a one-year warranty and a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal. The latter typically isn't included with straight-up refurbs, so what you're getting here is, to my expectation, good as new.
If you prefer "actual new" to "new other," no problem: Best Buy also has the actual-new Ideapad 100s for $149.99 shipped. (And if you prefer Chrome to Windows, try the Ideapad 100s 11.6-inch Chromebook for $129 shipped. Decisions, decisions!)
Getting back to the $129.99 Windows version, why did I declare this the best cheap laptop? Heck, where do I start? There's the impossibly low price, of course, and the Office 365 subscription -- normally $70 all by itself. I also love the candy-red shell, solid frame and keyboard and excellent battery life, as described in CNET's review of the 100s.
Needless to say, however, there are caveats. The system has a slow processor and outdated touchpad, which doesn't allow for two-finger scrolling. (Oh, Lenovo...) What's more, it has no USB 3.0 ports, only a pair of USB 2.0. And one of those ports will inevitably power the mouse you'll want to plug in (unless you go Bluetooth). The other, a flash drive or hard drive to expand the onboard 32GB of storage.
Remember, though, I recommended this for basic computing tasks: Skype, podcast recording and so on, plus your everyday Web stuff and, of course, Office-powered productivity.
And for that...for $129.99...good golly. Amazing deal.
Bonus deal: Calling all Mac users! Give your productivity a big shot in the arm with the AppSumo Mac Productivity Bundle, a five-app collection valued at $107, but priced at $25. The bundle includes (speaking of Skype and podcasting) the Ecamm Skype Recorder, the award-winning writing app Focused Writer and taskbar replacement uBar. I especially like AppSumo's 60-day money-back guarantee, something you rarely see with software bundles.