From the Cheapskate: Shut up and take my money, Meh.com. Plus: Free data for your iPad!
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
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Cheap things come to those who wait. If you were a Chromebook early adopter, you might have paid as much as $250 to $300. Then prices began to dip below $200, and over the course of 2015, the Google-powered laptops went from bargain to cheap to dirt-cheap.
Today, they're oh-my-god cheap. While supplies last, Meh.com has the refurbished Acer Chromebook 11 CB3 for $90, plus $5 for shipping. On rare occasions I've seen Chromebooks at $99.99, but this is a new low. And just an insane price for a full-featured laptop! (For sake of comparison, Newegg sells the same refurbished model for $119.99.)
What can I tell you about Chromebooks that you don't already know? They boot and shut down almost instantly. They don't slow down over time, and don't hit you with sudden and inexplicable Blue Screens of Death. They don't get infected with viruses, spyware or the dreaded ransomware (though phishing is still a risk).
Of course, they don't run Windows software, either, so this isn't the right choice if you need, say, Microsoft Office, iTunes, Photoshop or the like.
It is, however, fantastic for everyday computing tasks: email, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, Evernote and so on. That's because you can accomplish all of them inside a browser, which is the Chrome OS modus operandi.
I think Chromebooks are ideal for students, especially given that many schools are steering them to the Google ecosystem anyway (Docs, Drive and so on).
The Acer, as you might expect, has pretty basic specs -- Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of flash storage -- but Chrome OS doesn't need a lot of horsepower. And it's wholly cloud-driven, so your data gets stored mostly online anyway. Check out the wildly enthusiastic user reviews at Amazon (which, granted, are for a slightly different configuration). If you grabbed one of these last time around, hit the comments and add your own reviews to the mix.
This being a refurb, it comes with a 90-day Acer warranty. Even so, for $95 out the door, this is tough to pass up. Your thoughts?
Bonus deal: I don't know about you, but it seems like I can't have too many charge cables and wall adapters. (Granted, I have an unusually large number of mobile devices.) If you're constantly on the prowl for extras, pad your supply: Liger (via Amazon) has a two-pack of Apple MFi-certified 3.4-foot Lightning cables and 1-amp USB wall plugs for $12.95, shipped free for Prime subscribers. (Regular readers know that I strongly advise against buying Lightning cables that aren't certified.) The bundle is backed by a one-year warranty.
Bonus deal No. 2: In case you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out my post on how to get a free data plan for your iPad or other tablet. It's one of those things that sounds to good to be true, but isn't (kind of like RingPlus for free cell service). Ooh, speaking of that, RingPlus is now offering a couple new freebie plans, Giuseppe and Althea. The former gives you 1,200 minutes, messages and megabytes per month; the latter, 2,010 of each -- but only 67 per day. (Shrugs.) Just BYO Sprint-compatible phone and you're good to go!