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. And find more great buys on the CNET Deals page.
I'm not sure how long this will last, so I'm going to jump right into the deal and then come back to my usual witty, insightful overview.
Today only, and while supplies last, Meh has the refurbished Microsoft Surface Pro 2 with keyboard for $394, plus $5 for shipping. This is the top-end configuration of that model, which would have run you over $1,200 a couple years ago.
Specifically, the Surface Pro 2 features an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive. To put that in some perspective, the entry-level Pro 2 -- the one that sold for $899 -- came with 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. For less than half the price, you're getting considerably more PC.
Now for some good news/bad news: The accompanying keyboard (your choice of black or red) is new, not refurbished, but it's also the Touch variety, not the mechanical Type keyboard. The former is OK for knocking out quick emails and the like, but tough sledding for any real work. Shop around and you may be able to find a compatible Type keyboard in the $60-$70 range -- still a hard pill to swallow, but not when you consider the rock-bottom price on the tablet itself.
About that tablet: I highly recommend reading CNET's review, which praised the Surface Pro 2's performance and battery life but dinged its thick, heavy design.
That's definitely one of my dings as well: I've always found the Surface to be an ugly slab, even in its newer iterations. Some people aren't bothered by it, but the aesthetic kind of ruins it for me.
I also debate the value of a 10.6-inch screen for on-the-go productivity, especially considering that whatever keyboard cover you choose will be necessarily cramped to fit that size. And Windows just isn't a successful tablet platform, so the Surface -- for me -- falls into a no-man's-land of actual usefulness. It's not a good tablet because the apps aren't there and the interface is clunky; it's not a good laptop because it's too small.
All that being said, let me repeat my earlier statement: This is a lot of PC for the money. Heck, you could pair it with a full-size monitor and keyboard and find yourself pretty darn happy.
My question for you: Is the Surface Pro 2 a good deal at this price, or does it have too many strikes against it?
Bonus deal: I'm really excited about this one. Ever wish you could have a second line on your smartphone? There are lot of apps and services for that, but most of them charge a (sometimes steep) monthly fee. That's why this is singularly awesome: StackSocial is offering a lifetime subscription to Hushed Private Business Line for $25. Available for Android and iOS, the service gives you a second number in the area code of your choice.
Quick side note: I'm a small-business owner, and I've been relying on Google Voice for that business. But you know what? The mobile app is terrible, and certain aspects of the service are just too limiting. That's why I'm buying this the moment I'm done typing this paragraph. Well, also because the user reviews (for the iOS version, anyway) are stellar. Just make sure you read StackSocial's license terms, because this deal does require you to renew your subscription on an annual basis -- though it'll still be free when you do.
Update: Okay, there's a catch I overlooked: You're limited to just 500 voice minutes per year. (I honestly read it as "per month.") For a business user, that's probably a deal-breaker, though it is possible to earn more credits (from within the app) by installing other apps, watching videos and the like. Even so, anyone interested in a second number should also check out Sideline, which is limited but totally free.