MacBook, MateBook. MateBook, MacBook. It's no stretch to say this Huawei laptop was cut from the same cloth as Apple's venerable line. Thankfully, the Chinese machine doesn't have the same premium price.
In fact, today it's even cheaper than usual. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Newegg has the Huawei MateBook D 14-inch laptop for $529.99 shipped. Regular price: $629.99.
To me this is one of those sweet-spot machines, offering just the right size, performance, storage and weight. Its AMD Ryzen 5 processor is roughly equivalent to Intel's Core i5, and its 256GB solid-state drive will blow the doors off any mechanical drive. (If you've never owned a laptop with an SSD, trust me when I say you're in for a performance treat.)
Meanwhile, you've got a 14-inch touchscreen with a just-right 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution (anything higher can cause hassles with some software, in my experience) and an admirably slim bezel surrounding it.
You even get a decent port selection: HDMI, USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and USB Type-C. As for battery life, it's rated at up to 8 hours -- but of course that can vary depending on any number of factors.
CNET hasn't reviewed this model, but we did review -- and quite like -- the step-upmodel in 2018. Meanwhile, the eight Newegg customer reviews -- all of which are detailed and informative -- average out to just under five, er, eggs.
Now, yes: You'll need to decide if you want to do business with Huawei, which is currently in the, and has been called a US national security threat by both Democrats and Republicans. But just remember that PCs you buy from other brands will likely include many of the same components inside, and are just as likely to be manufactured in China, too.
As a general rule, I'm happy when I see a 13.3-inch laptop with a big SSD for $600. Here you're getting a slightly bigger screen and even lower price. Definitely worth a look!
Bonus deal: Another general rule of mine: Don't buy refurbished hard drives. Unless, that is, it comes directly from the manufacturer and has a decent warranty.
To wit: For a limited time, Western Digital has the recertified My Book 4TB USB 3.0 hard drive for $62 when you apply promo code WDDNFEB at checkout. It normally sells for $100 (which is already crazy-cheap, IMHO).
Designed with backup in mind, the My Book comes with utility software for Windows, but also works with Time Machine for Mac. It's backed by a 6-month WD warranty -- not as good as a new drive, but better than the 90 days you'd usually see on a third-party refurb.
What do you think? Is it worth gambling on recertified if it saves you 38 percent?
Bonus deal No. 2: This is decidedly not drone-flying weather (stay safe, fellow Midwesterners!), but you can always plan ahead. And, hey, let's not overlook indoor drones, which can help keep stir-crazy kids busy during snow days.
First up: Tomtop has the GoolRC T37 folding drone for just $10.99 shipped (from a US warehouse, thankfully). Not too long ago, this model sold for $30-$40. It's app-controlled, and therefore not ideal for really young pilots, but it's also small and light enough that it's actually better indoors than outdoors. No blade-guards, though, so parental supervision is definitely advised.
Once the weather does warm up, another favorite of mine is on sale: The Skytech TK110HW folding drone for $21.99 shipped. That's from China, so shipping might take 2-3 weeks, or you can choose the US-warehouse option for $27.99.
This one is also app-controlled -- there's another version that comes with a remote, which I prefer, but it's nearly twice the price -- and large enough that it can fly outdoors when there's not much breeze.
It's also indoor-friendly in that it comes with blade guards. There's even a built-in camera, though keep your expectations low. Really, really low.
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