Ever since getting some hands-on time with my buddy Doug's MacBook Air, I've been itching to ditch my clunky, heavy, slowpoke laptop in favor of a super-thin, super-light ultraportable.
Why not just buy an Air, you ask? As a card-carrying cheapskate, I just can't justify the "Apple tax"--no matter how cool the product may be. (The Air series starts at $999, and that's for the rather cramped 11-inch model.) And with all due respect to Mac fans, I don't care for the Mac OS.
Thankfully, I think I've found my ultraportable: the Asus U36SD. It's razor-thin, reasonably light, plenty powerful, and getting mostly ga-ga reviews. Most stores sell it for $899.99, but TigerDirect has the Asus U36SD-A1 for $699.99, plus around $9 for shipping.
You know me: usually I cast my eye toward laptops in the $300-400 range. Why would I pay almost double for the Asus? For starters, it has enough horsepower to last me through Windows 7 and into Windows 8, starting with its Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 640GB hard drive.
Even better, the U36SD measures just 0.75 inch thick, except where its battery extrudes in a slight bump, bringing the thickness to a whopping 1.1 inches. It's a little on the heavy side at 3.7 pounds, but that extra weight nets you an 8-cell battery--which Asus claims is good for up to 9 hours of runtime.
I'm also partial to the 13.3-inch screen: not too big, not too small. (Anything larger and you're looking at airplane tray-table trouble.)
The U36SD also has one of the better warranties I've seen: two years for parts and labor, with one year of accidental-damage coverage! That's well worth a few extra bucks, IMHO.
CNET hasn't reviewed the U36SD, but the user and professional reviews at Amazon, Newegg, Laptop Magazine, PC Magazine, and PC World are exceedingly positive. The big dings are the tinny speakers and stiff touchpad buttons, but I tend to use headphones and an external mouse anyway.
Given that this is a brand-new notebook, I'm surprised to see a $200 discount on it already. Think I might just pull the trigger.
Bonus deal: MacMall has the Dell 1250c color-capable LED printer for $45.99 shipped. That's right: the equivalent of a color laser printer for $46. It's USB-only, and color toner cartridges run around $28 apiece minimum, but it's still the cheapest color laser, like, ever.