Monday, June 30, 2008

From $500 desktops to $500 laptops

Summary: How much does a reasonably powerful laptop cost these days?

The first sub-$500 PCs, which came to the U.S. market just a few years ago, were pretty basic desktop systems with low-end processors, little RAM, small hard drives, and bulky CRT monitors. Look how times have changed.

This week (June 29-July 5, 2008), for about $500 (after the $125 mail-in rebate) you can get this laptop from Office Depot (free delivery is available):
  • Model: Acer Extensa EX5620-6419
  • 15.4" WXGA (1280x800) CrystalBright™ LCD screen
  • Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile processor T5550 (1.83 GHz)
  • 3GB DDR2 memory (RAM)
  • 160 GB hard drive
  • CD/DVD drive (reads/writes CDs and DVDs, supports double layer)
  • Intel 802.11a/b/g wireless LAN
  • 4 USB ports
  • 1 FireWire (IEEE 1394) port
  • 1 S-video port
  • Integrated webcam and microphone
  • 5-in-1 memory card reader (supports SD, MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, xD)
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 with up to 358MB shared memory
  • High Definition Audio with 2 built-in speakers
  • 6-cell lithium-ion battery; 65W AC adapter
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
I have been buying cheap (sub-$400) laptops for friends and family for a while, but this is the first time I see a Core 2 Duo-powered notebook computer with 3 GB of RAM priced below $500. Although I don't need a laptop now, I'm really tempted to get this one.

UPDATE: According to some SlickDeals posters, you may be able to get this laptop for around $500 -- or even less -- without a mail-in rebate hassle. The price should be valid until July 19, 2008.