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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Laptops

Get a refurbished MacBook Air 11.6 for $499

It's an older model, but still chock full of Air-y goodness. Plus: Three bonus deals!

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Apple

This is an update of a deal I shared back in June. And updated in the best possible way: it's even cheaper now!

If you're looking for an ultralight laptop, be prepared to pay for it. Apple's bar-setting MacBook Airs start at $899, and a similarly designed Windows machine typically sells for at least as much.

Ah, but if you're willing to accept a refurbished unit, there are some decidedly affordable options. Like this one: Today only, and while supplies last, DailySteals has the refurbished MacBook Air 11.6-inch laptop for $499, shipped. That's one of the lowest prices I've seen.

First things first: Because this comes from a third-party reseller, you don't get Apple's promise of exactly-like-new condition or a one-year warranty. Rather, you get 90 days -- which, let's face it, is typical for most refurbished gear.

Second: This is a 2011 model. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it simply helps explain the lower price. (A current-gen refurb from Apple will run you $769, minimum.)

I'm no Mac expert, nor even a fan, but the Air is just a gorgeous piece of hardware. This one comes with a 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, 64GB of SSD storage and an 11.6-inch screen. It weighs around 2.4 pounds, meaning it's about as backpack-friendly as laptops get.

That said, I know from past experience writing about MacBooks that many users feel 2GB of RAM is insufficient. Mac folks, hit the comments and share your thoughts on whether this hardware can get the job done for everyday computing.

For the record, as noted in Scott Stein's review , this configuration originally sold for $999. That review praises this model's speed and backlit keyboard (a must-have feature, I agree), but dings its limited storage. My take: Today's cloud-powered world helps compensate, and you can easily add more local storage with a tiny flash drive like this.

I know I'll get some dings for recommending an Apple product on a blog for cheapskates, but when there's a possibility of getting a $1,000 MacBook Air for $500, I gotta share. Your thoughts?

Bonus deal: Want to turn your home stereo into a Bluetooth stereo? While supplies last, ShopTronics (via Amazon) has the Nyrius Songo Bluetooth Music Receiver for $14.96. Shipping is free for Amazon Prime subscribers; everyone else will be on the hook for about $5. The AC-powered device plugs into any stereo with an input jack, then streams audio from nearly any smartphone or tablet. Check the user reviews: 4.4-star average!

Bonus deal No. 2: Now here's a book bundle I can get behind: The NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle lets you name your own price for six books on -- wait for it -- writing, or pay at least $15 to get a dozen books. It's to help celebrate National Novel Writing Month, which I totally dig -- though whoever thought up NaNoWriMo should be banned from writing forever.

Bonus deal No. 3: Game time! Remember a few years back, when Duke Nukem Forever finally came out -- and totally sucked? There's another gloriously over-the-top first-person shooter that totally gets it right, and it's on sale: Steam has Serious Sam 3: BFE (Win/Mac/Linux) for $3.99. Regular price: $39.99. Done and done. My only problem now is resisting it long enough to get today's work done.

One last thing! Don't forget to enter the Cheapskate A-Audio Giveaway, which gives you a chance to win one of four seriously sweet products for your ears.