questionsis there such a thing as good laptop for under…

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$300 is a bit low for a laptop. Increase it to $400 or so and you should be able to find an awesome one.

As for the Word question. No, Windows 7 does not come with Word. You would need to purchase Microsoft Office (current version is 2010). The manufacturer may include a stripped down version of Office or something similar, but you won't get the full-featured version.

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@bluejester I believe you could find a laptop that will suit your needs for around $300. As @hackman2007 said, it's a bit close, though. Many computers come with Microsoft Office pre-packaged, though I'm not sure if you could find that on a laptop in the sub-$300 range. I will also suggest OpenOffice.org as a free alternative to Microsoft Office.

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For your requirements, You should be able to find several in the neighborhood of $300 that will be more than sufficient for running an office suite, (I also recommend OpenOffice. I use it all the time.) checking your e-mail, and casual surfing. If you're not going to play games, compile software, or run a serious database, then you'll be fine. I've seen a few laptop deals for around $300 over the last few weeks, and I'm sure there'll be more. Check TigerDirect. They usually have a number of inexpensive laptops for sale.

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Under $300 AND good ... not any beyond the BF door busters. My definition of good is that the processor better be faster than a 6-year old desktop computer, and many in the lower end are not.

I'd target around $350 instead for a 15" class, 4gb ram, 320gb or larger hard drive, and at least a dual-core Pentium or AMD A-series processor.

I know last week, Best Buy had a Lenovo for $330. If someone else doesn't followup with a suggestion first, I'll see if I find another similar deal.

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@bluejester: Here is my bit of advice, coming from years of building my own desktops and also using various mobile computing devices...

$300 is a bit on the low side, but some units would probably suffice for about that price range (give or take $50), and they may suit your needs decently, especially as you have stated that your technical knowledge is limited, which would also suggest that you're not going to be doing any high-powered computing.

My suggestion would be to look for something with the AMD E series processors (E-350, etc) as they would easily provide decent ability to multitask between word processing and web browsing. They would also provide enough graphical horsepower for casual gaming, and even video streaming (they are capable of handling most basic HD streams) without many hiccups.

A good bet in that line of thought is the HP DM1z (Available at Costco, or from HP). It's a smaller screen, 12"... though there are other options with larger screens, same processor.

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For what you're looking for, $300 will get you a laptop that will let you write and browse the internet, at least for now. Unfortunately a $300 laptop is probably not going to meet your needs in a year or two, for a couple of reasons. The issue that may be less of a problem for you is obsolescence, which comes about from programs and websites doing more with your computer. The issue that may be a bigger deal to you is durability; I have not seen many $300 laptops that I would trust to stay intact and operational for very long.

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Check out this computer at Staples. It is allegedly going on sale for $350 from the 18th - 24th. It has a an 11.6" matte screen, 250G HD, and more importantly an i3 processor.

It also comes with Microsoft Office 2010.

http://www.staples.com/Samsung-Series-3-11.6-Laptop/product_344162

This very computer was on sale at 1saleaday.com yesterday for $400, and I bought one. I'd been stalking the Staples site for 2 months and pulled the trigger at $400, then found out about the upcoming sale about 40 minutes later. Figures.

Anyway, it's small, light and gets good reviews. Mostly dinged for short battery life, and there are 6-cell replacement batteries available elsewhere. Keep an eye out on the Staples website to see if they do indeed release a coupon good for $150 off. I might also suggest setting up a Google Alert for "Samsung Princeton" so you don't miss out on the coupon.

Good luck!

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What is your idea of good laptop?
Timing is key. I was able to snag a good, new laptop for $250, a couple months ago from newegg. It's not the best specs, but it's functional and gets the job done. I am gonna max out the memory soon though.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834230091

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I know that budget is important, but if you expanded your range to at least $399 you should be able to snag a very decent system. I think Amazon had an Acer with a quad-core AMD processor for $399 a week or two ago. Or look around Craigslist or local classifieds for people who are unloading used machines unless buying a new laptop is absolutely crucial.

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Do you want new, with a warranty and support? Or would you be willing to to look online for some good quality, gently used laptops? If writing and web surfing is all that's needed, a used laptop might be a good alternative based on price. Sometimes people will be trying to offload for cheap a fairly new model. Which means there might be a valid warranty and support still available with it. Depending on the site, SquareTrade might also be available.

Libre Office is a good, free alternative IMHO to MS Office and Apache Open Office. The main difference is no Outlook for email. For that there's Thunderbird (unless of course this is being used for a corporate environment).

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@jockovonred: Squaretrade is a good idea, but for a refurbished laptop is expensive. Refurbished is $70 for one year, while new, is $60 for three years (with an option for additional ADH coveage).

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Best Buy had a Lenovo for 300 and a Sony for 350. Whether they are any good is another story. I third (fourth?) Open Office. I bought a very cheap copy (through work) of the latest version of Office and hated it so I have gone back to using Open Office.

cf cf
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@svenkirk: yea, not a good option there if it costs that much. best bet would be to find a used one from someone who already paid for a long term warranty and have it transferred.

@cf: for saving cash OOo is a good alternative. i moved away from it because support/coding for it has essentially stopped (moved to Apache Software Foundation). another reason i moved to LibreOffice (since I use debian systems) is the cross-platform support for both linux and windows!

in case you weren't aware, the guys who coded for OOo left, created the Document Foundation, forked the code into LibreOffice and continue to expand it.