Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Best Laptops Under $500

From switched.com:

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to spend an arm and a leg on a laptop. Thanks to cheaper chips, more efficient software, and the fact that an increased amount of our computing is done online (meaning your computer doesn't need to be as powerful), plenty of notebooks can be had for less than $500. We scoured the tech landscape and found five laptops that will do all your basic computing needs, and then some, but still keep your budget balanced. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any Mac-based laptops – even in the used/refurbished bins – but you'll have to take that up with Steve Jobs. In the meantime, check out our picks for best bargain-basement laptops.

The Windows One: Acer Aspire 5315

Acer's full-fledged Vista-enabled mainstream laptop may not be the fastest, sturdiest, or prettiest, but it'll certainly do when you absolutely, positively have to have Windows for less than $500.

Who it's for: Students on a budget who still need Windows-compatible software (such as PowerPoint and Word for class preparation); parents and grandparents who don't want to do much more than word-process, balance the checkbook, or surf the Web.

What we like: The huge 15.4-inch LCD screen is great for movie-watching and slideshows, and the built-in stereo speakers are surprisingly powerful (considering they're made of plastic!). Sure, it's 6.2-pounds -- more than twice as heavy as the MacBook Air -- but that's not as heavy as we expected at this price point. It has three USB ports, which is generous. The keyboard is spacious and comfortable to type on, and includes a one-touch key for wireless and battery management, and a Wi-Fi on/off button. Most other laptops in this price category don't have a DVD/CD-RW drive, so music rippers and DVD watchers will be pleased that the Acer Aspire does have one.