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Laptops

Get a Lenovo Z50 Core i7 laptop for $549, shipped

A secret coupon code drops this powerful model another $100 below Lenovo's own sale price.

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Lenovo

There are power users, and then there are users who simply need power. If you like to play games, edit the occasional video, and keep, say, 20 browser tabs open at any given time, you probably fall into the latter category. And that means you need a machine with some muscle.

Like this one: For a limited time, you can get the Lenovo Z50 15.6-inch Core i7 laptop for $549, shipped. That's after applying coupon code USPZ5079116 at checkout. (Ignore the "BESTSELLER" code Lenovo wants you to use; that'll get you down to only $649.)

This is a pretty decked-out system, starting with the aforementioned Core i7: It's a 2GHz Haswell chip, and as such it should make for pretty smoking performance (to say nothing of better battery life). You also get 8GB of RAM, a 15.6-inch display running at 1,920 x 1,080, a DVD burner (remember those?), Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band Wi-Fi, and a 1TB hard drive.

I'm not wild about this last item, as mechanical drives pale in comparison to SSDs. And it's not clear if this one is a hybrid with an 8GB SSD partition, which would make for faster booting and shutdown. Certainly you can migrate to a full-on SSD down the road, but at least wait and see what performance is like out of the box.

I wish I could tell you, but CNET hasn't reviewed the Z50. The dozen or so user reviews on Lenovo's site are mostly positive. Certainly the integrated Intel HD 5000 graphics will prove unpopular with some, but remember it has Haswell behind it. Here's a gaming test showing Bioshock: Infinite (at 1,366 x 768) on the HD 5000, and I'd say it's smooth and pretty. (Here's another one: Titanfall. Seems very playable!)

My big objection to buying any PC right now is that Microsoft hasn't announced what the upgrade options will be for Windows 10, or how much it will cost. That said, if you need a system now and want a lot more power than you'd typically get at this price, there's a lot to like here.

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HP

Bonus deal: On the other hand, I continue to be a fan of nontraditional computing solutions, by which I mean inexpensive, low-hassle computing solutions. Like this one: For a limited time, Amazon has the HP Chromebox CB1-016 in Ocean Turquoise for $129, shipped. This adorable, Roku-size PC offers Chrome-powered computing with none of the hassles of Windows. You supply the monitor, mouse and keyboard.

Bonus deal No. 2: Do you buy a lot of stuff from Woot? If so, you've probably wished for a coupon code to eliminate that pesky $5 shipping charge. Here's the next best thing: Amazon Local is offering a coupon good for $5 off any Woot purchase of $25 or more. The only catch is you need to redeem it by December 12. Even if you don't have any immediate plans to order something from Woot, you should definitely grab this just in case. Update: The coupon is good for new Woot customers only. My profuse apologies for failing to notice this condition.

Bonus deal No. 3: While you're hanging out at Amazon ("Geez, Rick, if you love Amazon so much, why don't you marry it?!"), don't miss this: Today only, you can get a refurbished Kindle Paperwhite for $79, shipped. It sells new for $119 and rarely dips below $99. Like all refurb Kindles, this one looks and acts like new and comes with a full one-year warranty.