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I've made no secret of my dislike for Microsoft's Surface Pro line. The "tablet that can replace your laptop" but doesn't come with a keyboard? Yeah, no, thanks anyway.
That's one reason I was excited when HP took the wraps off the Spectre x2 late last year. An unabashed Surface clone, it offered a sexier design, a lower price tag and -- what do you know! -- a bundled keyboard.
The starter Spectre runs $799.99, but for a limited time, you can get the upgraded Spectre x2 12t for $749.99. Make sure to choose the M7 processor upgrade on the configuration page and apply coupon code BMSM25 at checkout. Regular price for this configuration: $1,000. Shipping is free, though you may be on the hook for sales tax.
Quick caveat: I first spotted this deal late yesterday, and I have no idea how long that code will be valid. As of this morning, it still is.
Like the Surface, the Spectre x2 is a hybrid PC: a tablet when you need it to be, a laptop the rest of the time (or vice-versa). That's because the keyboard can detach from the screen. And when it's connected, it doubles as a cover, folding up like a traditional laptop.
The baseline model includes an Intel Core M3 processor and 4GB of RAM. Here you're getting 8GB of RAM and the aforementioned Core M7 processor, which should translate to a pretty solid performance boost. (Slower-than-Surface performance was one of CNET's only complaints with the Spectre x2.)
Speaking of that review, you'll definitely want to give it a read, as it provides all the details you'll need to know if this is the right portable for you. My take: it's much, much prettier than the Surface, and I definitely prefer the former's "stiffer and more substantial" keyboard.
What's more, the Spectre offers a mobile-broadband option in the form of Verizon 4G LTE service -- something to consider if you do a lot of work away from Wi-Fi. The service costs extra, of course, but at least the capability is there.
Mostly, I just appreciate that the keyboard is included. Because, duh, no one is going to buy a system like this and use it solely as a tablet. Charging extra -- a lot extra -- for a keyboard is just an insult.
Your thoughts? I'm pretty well set laptop-wise, for the moment. Otherwise I'd jump at this.
Bonus deal: Game time! If you were waiting for the price to drop on the new Tomb Raider sequel, your patience has paid off: For a limited time (hopefully not too limited), GameStop has Rise of the Tomb Raider (PC) for $17.99. The game, which debuted in November to serious acclaim, requires a Steam account and client. It still sells elsewhere (for example, on Steam proper) for $59.99. Update: Aaargh. Sure enough, the deal expired shortly after I posted it. I'll never understand why vendors do this. Deals should only ever expire at midnight.
Bonus deal 2: Even if you're the only passenger in your car, a single USB charging port probably isn't enough. So grab the Aukey AiPower quad-port USB car charger for $5.99 when you apply the coupon code 93GPRYIP at checkout. (That link's for the black model, but it's also available in white.) It regularly runs $12.95, and sold for closer to $20 when CNET reviewed it a while back. The takeaway: "With its compact construction and plentiful power, the Aukey AIPower Quad-USB Port Car Charger is easily recommendable if you need to charge multiple devices on the go." Update: Some readers are reporting difficulty getting the code to work. I'm not sure why, but check the comments below for at least one possible workaround. For the record, I tested it and it worked as expected.