This is an update of a post from a few months ago.
For a long time I was a solid-state-drive naysayer. I'd heard mixed things about their performance and longevity, and I certainly wasn't a fan of their sky-high prices.
But SSDs have improved considerably over the years, to the point where they're now a highly desirable alternative to traditional hard drives.
Indeed, a good SSD is usually significantly faster, and it consumes less power -- a big consideration for battery-conscious laptop users. Also, because it has no moving parts, it's much less susceptible to damage.
SSDs still cost more than hard drives, but they're getting a bit cheaper all the time. Here's an admirable example: While supplies last, Newegg has the OCZ Agility 3 90GB internal 2.5-inch SSD for $79.99 shipped. That's after redeeming a $20 mail-in rebate (PDF).
You might think 90GB isn't much storage. For some people, it's not. But consider this: recently I swapped the 320GB hard drive from my new HP Pavilion dm1z for a 64GB SSD. The fact is, I don't need much storage in a laptop -- and I wanted to see if SSDs lived up to the hype.
Mine definitely did. It cut Windows' boot time in half (literally--I timed it) and made programs like my Web browser load twice as fast. My only complaint? I paid $99 for it. D'oh!
The Agility 3 has a SATA III interface, which, as I understand it, affords even faster performance than SATA II. And the Newegg user reviews bear out the drive's blazing speed; one guy called it "ungodly fast when coming from HDD." That said, a few users ended up with bad drives, so be sure to keep making backups of your data. (Thankfully, OCZ offers a three-year warranty.)
The drive ships without a 3.5-inch adapter, so if you're planning to install it in a desktop, you'll need to pick one up. Also, if it's going to take the place of an existing drive, you'll need a USB-to-SATA adapter (the most indispensable tool in my PC repair kit) so you can image that drive to the SSD before installing it.
For anyone looking to breathe new life into an old-ish laptop or experiment with running Windows from an SSD (while keeping data on a bigger drive), this is a mighty affordable way to get started.
Bonus deal: Based on some recent shopping, I know how difficult it is to find a 55-inch HDTV for under $1,000. So check this out: TigerDirect has the refurbished Sharp AQUOS LC60LE810UN 60-inch LED HDTV for $999.99 shipped when you use coupon code RLP58003. The specs are rock-solid, the user reviews extremely positive. The only risk is the 90-day warranty.