I'm on record as saying that, even at $249, a Chromebook is still overpriced -- especially when you can get a bigger, more powerful, Windows-based laptop for not much more.
But $169? Now it's time to re-evaluate. And speaking of time, you don't have much: Today only, and while supplies last, Best Buy has the refurbished Samsung Chromebook XE303C12 for $169.99, shipped (plus sales tax). As noted, it sells new for $249.
A Chromebook, as you may know, runs Google's Chrome OS, meaning you can't run any Windows software -- but you can accomplish most of what you need from a laptop: word processing, Web browsing, YouTube streaming, e-mail managing, and so on. Pretty much anything you can already do in a browser, you can do here.
The system features 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and an 11.6-inch LED-backlit screen with a native resolution of 1,366 x 768. It weighs 2.4 pounds (less than a lot of higher-powered Ultrabooks) and measures a fairly trim 0.7-inch thick.
I recently got a chance to grope one of these, and I was surprised by how solid it felt -- despite its lightweight plastic chassis. I'm not sure how it would hold up over the long haul, but it didn't strike me as cheaply made (even though it obviously was).
Although you can perform certain tasks offline, the Chromebook (and, really, the Chrome OS) was designed for an always-on connection. That's been one of my chief complaints with the whole Chromebook concept, and although I'm probably the perfect target demographic -- someone who works mostly in Wi-Fi-enabled environments -- the offline limitations bug me.
Of course, for $169, I'm suddenly a lot less bugged. CNET aptly called this "a good extra computer for cloud-loving Google-centric Web users," and about a dozen Best Buy customers collectively rated it 4.1 stars out of 5. If you need something simple for around-the-house computing, this is a crazy-good deal. Even with its 90-day warranty, I suspect it'll sell out by late morning. Good luck!
Bonus deal: Need to route an Ethernet connection from here to there? Put down the drill and pick up a powerline networking kit. Like this one: Today only, PricePlunge has the LEA Networks Netplug 200+ Powerline Ethernet Adapter Kit for $16.14 when you apply coupon code SPRING5 at checkout. Shipping adds $4.99. I haven't found any reviews of this kit, but it's by far the cheapest deal I've ever seen on two powerline plugs.
Bonus deal No. 2: Bluetooth speakers rock, both figuratively and literally. I've tried a bunch of them, and I continue to be impressed with Jawbone's Jambox, which delivers surprisingly big sound from an impressively small package. While supplies last, Tanga has the Jawbone Jambox Platinum portable Bluetooth speaker for $94.99, plus $4.99 for shipping. It's not only a speaker, but also a speakerphone you can update with apps and whatnot. It lists for $179.99. Just one caveat: Although this is listed as new (in "bulk packaging"), it has only a 30-day warranty.
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