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Get a MacBook Air 13 for $850

A rare deal on a new, not refurbished, Apple laptop. Plus: a $10 adventure game for 89 cents and a smoking deal on Google Daydream VR.


Why pay $1,000 for a MacBook Air when you can pay $850?

Sarah Tew/CNET

Editors' note, Oct. 31: Apple has announced a new version of the MacBook Air, which starts at $1,199 and features a Retina display, Touch ID and USB-C ports. The version mentioned below remains on sale, for now, and still starts at $999. The original article, published on Mar. 21, follows.

Cheapskate Jr. is headed off to college in the fall. The only thing I find more shocking than that is her sudden interest in MacBooks. I raised her a Windows user, dangit! (Because Cheapskate, duh.) No daughter of mine is going to get me to pay 2-3 times as much for a laptop.

Except, well, she's my kid and I want to give her whatever she wants. (Because dad, duh.) Which begs the question: Can I actually find a decent deal on a MacBook?

Of course I can. It's me! For a limited time, and while supplies last, Best Buy has the MacBook Air 13.3 (2017) for $849.99 shipped (plus tax). Regular price: An even $1K.

That's still a lot to pay for a laptop, but the Air is a pretty darn good laptop -- a premium model, to be sure -- and a $150 savings is nothing to sneeze at.

As it happens, my original plan was to steer you to Apple proper, where you can get a refurbished MacBook Air 13.3 (2017) for $849 shipped. And if you swing by Ebates first, you can score a 2-percent rebate on refurbished Apple items. That amounts to about $17, bringing your net total down to $832.

But although Apple's refurbs are nearly good as new (right down to the 1-year warranty), I think most folks would prefer "actual new" given this small a price discrepancy. So what's with the big Best Buy discount? Maybe this: Apple is having an education-focused event next Tuesday. Whether or not a rumored updated Air will debut there -- or maybe even just a permanent price cut -- is anyone's guess.

Wherever you end up shopping, $850 feels a little more tolerable -- a little less like you're paying a steep "Apple tax." Indeed, price any Windows ultrabook with roughly the same specs and you're likely to spend around $700. 

Speaking of specs, the Air features a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. That's not a ton of local storage, but you know kids these days. Everything lives in the cloud, right? And it's easy enough to pop in a low-profile flash drive for extra space. I suspect Cheapskate Jr. would find this more than sufficient for her undergrad program.

That said, I'm not a Mac user and never have been, so I won't be able to provide any kind of tech support if she needs it. Maybe that's a good thing. Kid's gotta grow up sometime, right? #Ihavesomethinginmyeye

Your thoughts?

James Martin/CNET

Bonus deal: VR still hasn't caught on in the way I thought it would, I guess because the headsets are still dorky and the content is mostly game-oriented.

That said, it's still pretty darn amazing, and the cost of entry has rarely been this cheap. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Best Buy has the Google Daydream View VR headset (2017) for $49.50 -- half off the regular price.

To use this, you'll need a Daydream-compatible phone. That list includes a smattering of models from not only Google and Samsung, but also Axon, Huawei and Motorola.

Next, check out CNET's hands-on look at (and in) the Daydream View. Verdict: It's super-comfortable, but still a little limited on the software front. (Apps number in the hundreds, not thousands.) Still, for $50, it's an awfully affordable way to dip your toe into VR. And if you've never tried, prepare to be delighted.

Bonus deal No. 2: Game time! Virginia is a single-player adventure that's all about a missing-person investigation. It normally costs $9.99 on Steam, but for a limited time, Fanatical has Virginia (PC and Mac) for just 99 cents. Promo code SPRING10 knocks it down another dime. A dime, people!

That nets you a code you can redeem on Steam, where reviews of the 2016 game are decidedly mixed. Seems some folks loved it and some definitely didn't. If you enjoy the movie stylings of David Lynch and the noir, dreamlike storytelling of shows like "Twin Peaks," this might be just your cup of game.

And for just 89 cents, isn't it worth finding out?

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!