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Back to School 2013: Budget Laptops

by Roy Choi | August 23, 2013August 23, 2013 2:00 pm PST

Back to School 2013 - Laptops

The following post is sponsored by Best Buy. Head over to Best Buy for your back to school needs.

We’ve already run through our favorite, but somewhat pricey, choices of laptops for back to school.  However, we know not everyone can afford a $2,000 laptop.  So we’ve put together a collection of our favorite units under $600.  We were pleasantly surprised to see the quantity and quality of options in this price range.

Dell – Inspiron 15.6-inch Laptop

The Dell Inspiron 15.6-inch laptop bucks the thought that you have to settle for small displays and little or no features when shopping for a budget laptop. This particular model packs in a 1.5 GHz Intel Celeron Processor, 4GB of RAM (expandable up to 8GB), double-layer DVD-RW drive, 320 GB HD, webcam, 15.6-inch LED display (1366×768), 8-in-1 media reader, 4 USB ports (2-USB 3.0, 2-USB 2.0), Bluetooth 4.0, all packed in an 1-inch thick enclosure. Pretty impressive especially when you consider the price is just $279.99. 

Asus – 15.6-inch Laptop

If you’re looking for slightly better specs than the Dell Inspiron model above, the Asus 15.6-inch laptop may catch your eye, figuratively. This particular model comes in three eye-popping colors: White, green and pink. This unit sports a 3rd Gen i3 1.8GHz Intel Core processor, 4GB RAM, 15.6-inch LED display (1366 x 768), 500GB HD, HDMI Out, webcam, 3 USB ports (1-USB 3.0, 2-USB 2.0) all weighing in under 4.4 lbs and less than an inch thick. While this model does not include an optical drive, most new devices seem to be heading in that direction anyway. This model will set you back just $349.99.

Lenovo – IdeaPad S400 Touch 14-inch Touch-Screen Laptop

Now if you’re in the market for a touch-screen laptop, which we personally feel is the best way to experience all Windows 8 has to offer, then you may want to shell out just a little more for a device like the Lenovo Ideapad S400 Touch. This laptop comes with a 14-inch touch-screen display (1366 x 768) sporting a 3rd gen i3 1.9GHz Intel Core processor, 4GB of RAM, 500 GB HD, webcam, media reader, HDMI out, 3 USB ports (1-USB 3.0, 2-USB 2.0). At $449.99, it is definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for a touch-screen display laptop.

Dell – Inspiron 17.3-inch Laptop

If the earlier mentioned 15.6-inch Dell Inspiron’s specs have you pining for more then you may want to check out this 17.3-inch variant.  The Dell Inspiron features a hefty 750 GB HD, 6 GB of RAM, a 3rd Gen i3 1.9GHz Intel Core processor, DVD burner, 8-in-1 media reader, 4 USB ports (2-USB 3.0, 2-USB 2.0), Bluetooth, with a gigantic 17.3-inch display. Though you end up having to pay a bit more ($599.99) than the 15.3-inch version, you definitely get your money’s worth with this unit.

HP – Pavilion 17.3-inch Laptop

The HP Pavilion 17.3-inch laptop sports a 3rd gen i3 2.4GHz Intel Core processor, 6GB of RAM, DVD/CD burner, 750 GB HD, 3 USB ports (2-USB 3.0, 1-USB 2.0), Bluetooth, with a 17.3-inch LED display (1600 x 900).  The HP Pavilion comes with a list of stellar specs without breaking the bank at $550. While this laptop weighs a bit more than other models, it also has a larger battery. This particular model comes in sparkling black and silver.

Acer – Aspire 15.6-inch Touch-Screen Laptop

The Acer Aspire 16.6-inch touch-screen laptop is near the top of my list in this category. First off it looks sleek, but it also has brains to match.  This model comes with a 3rd gen i5 1.8GHz Intel Core processer (with Turbo Boost, up to 2.7GHz), 6GB of RAM (upgradable up to 10 GB), 500 GB HD, 15.6-inch touch-screen LED display (1366 x 768), web cam, digital reader, HDMI out, 3 USB ports (1-USB 3.0, 2-USB 2.0), and Bluetooth 4.0. This unit has pretty much everything you would possibly need. Priced at $579.99 it’s near the top of the category, but definitely worth a look.

Samsung – ATIV Book 4 15.6″ Laptop

The Samsung ATIV Book 4 sports a mean 3rd Gen Intel Core i5 2.6GHz processor (with Turbo Boost up to 3.2 GHz), 6GB of RAM (up to 8 GB), 15.6-inch LED display ( 1366 x 768), 750 GB HD, webcam, digital reader, HDMI out, 3 USB ports (1-USB 3.0, 2-USB 2.0), and Bluetooth 4.0. The processor alone sets this unit above other units in the category and it’s packaged in a beautiful sleek design. Priced at just $579.99, this unit is a great deal considering we would find similarly spec’d devices going for much more.


Roy Choi

Roy Choi is a Southern California native. He has been infatuated with technology reviews ever since he bought his first crummy laptop in the summer...

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