Vista bargain hunting

Inexpensive Windows Vista laptops

Looking for a new Windows Vista laptop but don't want to break the bank? For about the same price as, say, a PlayStation 3, you can actually take your pick of a couple of new models.

The catch, of course, is that these systems use Vista Basic, the extremely stripped-down version of Microsoft's new operating system. No Aero interface, no Media Center, and so on.

For $498, you can get the new Everex Stepnote VA4101M (available at Wal-Mart, of all places). This 15.4-inch laptop includes Vista Basic, an Intel Celeron M processor, and only 512MB of RAM, which seems pretty sketchy for any flavor of Vista, even Vista Basic.

Jump up another $100, and you can get the Gateway NX270S, a 14.1-inch laptop with the same Vista Basic/Celeron M combo, but this one includes a full 1GB of RAM, which should be enough for everyday Vista use.

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