Black Friday laptops, desktops, and tablets (pictures)
The Black Friday deals you should grab, and a few to pass on.
HP Pavilion Sleekbook, 14-inch ($399 at Sam's Club)
A decent price for an Intel Core i5/6GB RAM/500GB HDD laptop of any kind, this is one of HP's recently redesigned Pavilion laptops, which look pretty sharp, even if they're mostly plastic. The Sleekbook name is HP's way of saying this is a very thin laptop, but one that doesn't meet Intel's exact specs for it to be called an ultrabook (most likely because of the lack of any SSD storage). More info here.
Lenovo makes a nice laptop, even at the lower end of the price spectrum. That said, sticking an AMD E-300 processor in a 15-inch laptop is asking for trouble, despite the appealing $187 price. Maybe if you need a big screen to use as a digital photo frame. More info here.
This is an 11-inch ultraportable with Windows 8, an Intel Core i3 CPU, and a touch screen. I haven't tested this exact model personally, but it has an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive, so from that I'd say it's quite functional. The regular price is about $50 more. More info here.
Moving up to a 15-inch touch screen but keeping the Core i3 CPU makes this a bit of a mixed bag. There are a lot of Core i5 laptops you can find for around $500, but the touch screen is rarer, and makes Windows 8 much more usable. We're testing one of these V5 laptops right now, and the design is pleasingly thin and modern-looking. More info here.
Another laptop deal that's so inexpensive you're right to be wary. This 15-inch Compaq (a sub-brand of HP that's usually reserved for the lowest-end laptops) has an AMD E-series CPU, which is just not going to fulfill your expectations of what a 15-inch Windows 8 laptop should do. It's regularly around $350, so at least it's a significant discount.
Lenovo IdeaCentre B540 all-in-one ($599 at Best Buy)
Even though it only has an Intel Pentium-class CPU, this 23-inch all-in-one has a touch screen, Windows 8, and a 4GB RAM/500 GB HDD combo. A Core i3 version will set you back more than $800, so this could be a good kitchen computer, if you don't mind slower performance.
The current Inspiron 14z is a pretty sharp-looking mainstream laptop that's near ultrabook-thin. This doorbuster from Dell has a Core i3/4GB RAM/500GB HDD configuration that's a great deal for this price. But, Dell says quantities are limited, and this price starts November 23 at midnight.
This high-end desktop package includes a Core i7/16GB RAM/2TB HDD configuration, along with a midrange Nvidia GPU and a 23-inch monitor. At Costco it'll be $999, while the same setup direct from Dell currently costs around $1,399.