Smallish laptops are great for travel, but when you're sitting at your desk all day, you'll almost certainly find yourself longing for a larger screen.
Indeed, I can handle my HP dm1z's 11.6-inch display for an hour or two in a coach seat or coffee shop, but for everyday home-office duties, it's way too cramped.
That's why I keep a nice, big monitor on my desk. Sound good? Then check this out: TigerDirect has the Acer G245HQ 24-inch LCD monitor for $129.99, plus $9.87 for shipping.
As you'd expect from an LCD of this size, the G245HQ offers a 1,920 by 1,080 native resolution. Don't worry if your laptop's own screen has a lower pixel count; most modern graphics subsystems can go higher on external displays. (If it's an especially low-end model, you may take a performance hit -- but for everyday apps it should be fine.)
In most other respects, this is a pretty basic monitor, with an 80,000:1 contrast ratio, 5ms response time, and DVI/VGA inputs. HDMI and built-in speakers would add some versatility to the display, but for desktop use they're not essential. (In case it's not abundantly obvious, you don't have to use this with a laptop; it'll work just as nicely with desktops, especially pulling second-monitor duty.)
At this price point, you might expect a refurb, but the G245HQ is new. In fact, it comes with a three-year warranty, one reason I'm especially partial to Acer monitors.
What's more, out of 64 user reviews, the G245HQ rates an impressive 4.8 out of 5 stars. What's not to like?
Bonus deal: Good news, music fans: Amazon is offering a free $2 MP3 credit when you apply coupon code HITUMBLR. (The promotion is aimed at Tumblr users, but you needn't be one to take advantage of it.)