If you want an ultra-thin, ultra-light laptop, be prepared to pay for it. Apple's bar-setting MacBook Airs start at $899, and a similarly designed Windows machine typically sells for at least as much.
Ah, but if you're willing to buy a refurbished system, there are some more affordable options. Like this one: today only, and while supplies last, IceMonkey has the refurbished MacBook Air MC969LL/A for $649 shipped.
Update:Eagle-eyed reader theriault3 discovered that DailySteals (same company as IceMonkey) has what appears to be the same model on Ebay for $499.99! Curiously, there's no warranty information listed, only a 14-day return option, so this could be a different "batch" of refurbs. Or it could be the best flippin' MacBook Air deal ever.
First things first: because this isn't coming directly from Apple, you don't get the same promise of exactly-like-new condition or the same one-year warranty. Rather, you get 90 days -- which, let's face it, is typical for most refurbished gear.
Second, this is the 2011 MacBook Air, not the 2013 model. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it simply helps explain the lower price. (A current-gen refurb from Apple will run you $869, minimum.)
I'm no Mac expert, but every time I've laid eyes on an Air, I've felt deep pangs of stuff lust. It's just a gorgeous piece of hardware, and certainly powerful enough for most mainstream tasks. This one comes with a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of SSD storage, and an 11.6-inch screen. It weighs roughly 2.4 pounds, meaning it's about as backpack-friendly as laptops get.
By the way, as noted in Scott Stein's review, this configuration originally sold for $1,199. That review praises this model's speed and backlit keyboard (a must-have feature, I agree), but dings its "limited" storage. I think that's less of an issue in today's cloud-powered world, though I will admit my own 128GB drive is starting to fill up. (Easy fix -- a tiny flash drive like this one.)
I know I'll get some dings for recommending an Apple product on a blog for cheapskates, but when there's a possibility of saving over $200 on some very coveted hardware, I gotta share. Your thoughts?
Bonus deal: Game time! I'm not sure for how long, but DealFisher (via Amazon) has Call of Duty: Ghosts for Xbox One for $19.99, with free shipping for Prime subscribers or if you pad your cart to at least $35. This is the best deal I've seen by far; the game still sells for $60 at a lot of stores. Read GameSpot's very flattering review if you want to learn more.