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If you know me, you know I have no love for Microsoft. Maybe it's the Xbox One that forced an hour-long software update last night, when all I wanted to do was watch a Blu-ray. Maybe it's the Windows operating system that still can't find my printer after waking up from sleep mode.
And don't get me started on the Surface tablet, which is shown far and wide with a keyboard -- even though a keyboard is not included. (Oh, you want one? That'll be an extra $129.)
Make no mistake, I wouldn't mind owning a Surface Pro 4 -- but it's useless to me (and, I suspect, to 90 percent of other people) without a place to type. Forcing me to buy an expensive keyboard separately just feels like an insult.
Now that Mr. Crankypants has had his say, this: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Always Deals (via eBay) has the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Type Cover for $659.99 shipped. Same model purchased directly from Microsoft without a keyboard: $849.
Let's go straight to the specs: This isn't the entry-level Surface, but it's not the loaded one, either. You get a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of SSD storage and Microsoft's widely praised PixelSense Display 12.3-inch touchscreen. There's a stylus included as well.
I consider all that to be sufficient horsepower for everyday computing. If you need to edit video or routinely keep 20 tabs open in your browser, the system is probably going to drag a bit.
As for storage, 128GB can go quickly. If you end up needing more, you can always plug media into the Surface's microSD slot or single USB 3.0 port. The latter is a bit of a sore spot, as it can be tough to subsist on just one USB outlet.
It's a testament to this product that people seem to really love it, despite the Great Keyboard Insult. I will admit I haven't spent any meaningful time with one myself, so I'll turn you over to. Verdict: "The best-in-class Windows tablet -- so long as you're prepared to pay extra for the required keyboard cover accessory." Cough, ahem, cough.
Here, you're getting not only a great deal on the tablet itself, but also a $129 accessory that's, let's face it, essential.
Bonus deal: It's starting to seem really ludicrous to spend $600-$700 on a phone, or even $400-500 on a phone. Not when there are deals like this: For a limited time, Amazon has the LeEco Le S3 unlocked dual-sim GSM phone for $149.99 shipped.
Check out a few of the key specs: 5.5-inch HD display, octa-core Snapdragon processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, metal body, fingerprint scanner and USB-C. The dual SIM slot effectively gives you the option of two phone numbers, though I'm not sure if both SIMs can be active simultaneously or what.
Now for the bad news: The phone has no headphone jack or microSD slot, and it doesn't support NFC. But this phone was $250 when it debuted in late 2016, so there's no question $150 makes it worthy of consideration. Certainly it forces you to reconsider spending three or four times as much on your next phone..