Get an entry-level Lenovo laptop for $284.99

It may not be ultra-thin or ultra-light, but this IdeaPad has ample horsepower for everyday computing.

The Lenovo IdeaPad N580.
Best Buy

Quick housekeeping note: Deals are available at the time I write about them, and I usually have no way of knowing how much inventory a seller has left. Unfortunately, occasionally an item sells out soon after I post it, which is what happened yesterday. Believe me, I share your frustration. The good news is that good deals very often come around again -- and I always try to clue you in when they do.

Back to business. Did you ever stop to think how today's entry-level PC was yesterday's powerhouse? Not so many years ago, you'd have paid a thousand dollars or more for a system with a dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and so on. And if it was a laptop, the price tag would have been even higher.

The real irony is that you need less horsepower today than you used to, as you're probably not running as much high-falutin' software. Now nearly everything happens in your browser, and that hardly requires a Core i7 processor.

With that kind of thinking in mind, Best Buy has the Lenovo IdeaPad N580 15.6-inch laptop for $284.99 shipped (plus tax).

So, what kind of loadout is yesterday's powerhouse packing? A dual-core Intel B960 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, four USB ports (two of them USB 3.0), a Webcam, an HDMI output, and a keyboard wide enough to include a numeric keypad.

It also has a DVD burner, as evidenced by at least one photo and the overall size and weight of the system -- even though that feature has curiously been left out of the specs on Best Buy's product page. (Lenovo's own product page verifies it.)

The system weighs 5.7 pounds and stands 1.2 inches tall, so it's no Ultrabook. But for desktop duty with the occasional toss into a backpack for trips to the library or coffee shop, it's livable. Especially at this price.

Indeed, I think this is crazy-cheap for a laptop like this, although I have seen even larger desktop-replacement machines for just a few dollars more. If you need some portability, though, I'd go for this size. Here's hoping these last the morning, at least!

Oh, also, the handful of user reviews are quite positive, save for the one dissenter who hates Windows 8. Hey, I hear you, brother, but we're stuck with it, so let's learn to live with it.

Bonus deal: Don't need a hard drive quite that large? Best Buy also has the Toshiba Satellite C855D 15.6-inch laptop for $269.99 shipped (plus tax). It's nearly identical in terms of specs, save for a smaller (320GB) hard drive and USB 2.0-only ports.

Bonus deal No. 2: Game time! Today only, the Amazon Appstore has Cut the Rope: Experiments for Android for free. It's normally a buck. This sequel to the smash-hit physics game features more of the adorable Om Nom, who has the best name of any game character ever.

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