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I think the sweet spot for mobile computing is a 13.3-inch screen. But if you opt for something just a little smaller -- an ultrabook -- you can save money and travel lighter. Which brings us to today's deals.
At first glance, the Chuwi LapBook 12.3 looks like a high-end machine. It's wrapped in a lovely magnesium aluminum body, with shiny beveled edges and a svelte, 0.6-inch frame.
And the screen. It's gorgeous, with a Retina-caliber 2,736x1,824-pixel resolution. It's not the brightest I've seen -- my Asus UX303 beats it in that department -- but it's amazing given the price.
Oh, right, the price: For a limited time, and while supplies last, GearBest has the Chuwi LapBook 12.3 for $319.99 shipped. I don't recall ever seeing a laptop with this kind of screen for anywhere near this price. Update: Awesome reader hgwaters discovered that promo code gearbest02 will knock another $20 off the price! Tested and confirmed!
The Chuwi folks were kind enough to send me a demo unit, which is how I know this machine is a looker. And after a day of testing, I have exactly two problems with it. First, it has a Celeron processor. It's fast enough -- the LapBook boots quickly, loads and scrolls web pages quickly, plays full-screen video without a hiccup -- but just doesn't have the muscle for heavy-duty multitasking.
Second, it comes from GearBest, currently the only source for the system. And because it'll be shipping from Hong Kong, it's likely to take two to four weeks to arrive. I know some of you have had a bad experience with that seller, so I wouldn't blame you if that was a dealbreaker. My take: If you use a credit card, your purchase is protected in the event the order doesn't arrive or has some kind of defect. (Also, if there's an unresolved problem, let me know and I'll do my best to help.)
In nearly all other respects, this is a winner. Although the processor is a disappointment, at least it's bolstered by 6GB of RAM. And although 64GB of eMMC storage may not seem like a lot, you can easily add more: The LapBook has a microSD slot and two USB 3.0 ports. Better still, there's an easily accessible M.2 SSD expansion slot -- though I had a hard time locating any drives that seemed to be the right size.
As for the keyboard, it's just large enough. Not backlit, though. Dang.
Still, I think this is an amazing bargain: beautiful design, amazing screen, incredibly low price. Your thoughts?
This Yoga is good for... yoga!
Can't make it to a yoga class? Hit up YouTube or another source for yoga videos, then flip the Lenovo Yoga 700's screen around so it's in tent mode or theater mode or whatever they call it. (I call it "screen-forward" mode.) OK, so maybe that's not the most compelling reason to choose this portable PC. But there are others.
This two-in-one ultrabook has a hinged 11.6-inch display, meaning it can transition from laptop to tablet and back again, stopping at various points in between. Is it Retina-quality? No, but it does do full 1,920x1,080 HD, which is damn well good enough for this size.
The Yoga 700 also comes with an Intel M5 processor (way faster than a Celeron), 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive. Is it a shiny metal beauty? Nope. Is it new, even? Nope, it's refurbished. But it's also in the same ballpark, pricewise: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Woot has the refurbished Lenovo Yoga 700 for $369.99, plus $5 for shipping.
I like Lenovo stuff a lot, though I haven't tried this particular model. There's a lot of bang for the buck, but I do know from past experience that an 11.6-inch screen and accompanying keyboard feel a little cramped. And it's a refurb, so the warranty lasts just 90 days.
Bonus deal: Still looking for a Father's Day gift? How about a laser-powered tape measure for his toolbox? Normally these gizmos run anywhere from $30-$70, but here's a better deal: Etekcity (via Amazon) has the Laser Distance Measurer for $26.99 when you apply promo code CNETPROM at checkout.
It has a backlit screen, one that's large enough to display your three most recent measurements, and it can store up to 50 readings. You can use the gizmo to measure distances up to 50 meters. And it can measure from the top of the unit or the bottom, handy for different situations.
I own one of these, and I will say there's a bit of a learning curve: The controls aren't super-intuitive. But it's still a really useful item, something I reckon any dad would like.