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Toshiba Satellite P55t-A5202
The Satellite P55t-A5202 is part of Best Buy's "Premium Collection," but at $779.99, it doesn't have a premium price. You'll get a solid mainstream laptop for that amount: 15.6-inch 1,920x1,080 touchscreen, 8GB of RAM, 750GB hard drive, Intel Core i5-4200U Haswell processor, and DVD burner. You also get such niceties as Harmon Kardon speakers, a brushed aluminum lid, and even Nuance Dragon Assistant voice recognition software when you're too lazy to control your computer by using your hands.
Acer Aspire M5-583P-6428
Another Best Buy exclusive, the Aspire M5 might lack some of the Toshiba's sex appeal, but it includes similar specs and a cheaper price tag. The $649.99 configuration includes a 15.6-inch touchscreen, Core i5-4200U Haswell processor, 8GB of RAM, and 500GB hard drive, though it lacks an optical drive. But that helps keep the Aspire M5 fairly svelte at 5.3 pounds and under an inch thick. Media-friendly features include four speakers, Dolby Home Theater v4 technology, and Acer Purified.Voice processing that helps ensure that your video chats sound their best, whether students are chatting with old friends or their family.
Sony Vaio Fit series
Sony is known for selling premium notebooks, but the Vaio Fit, and the even cheaper Fit E, makes a nod towards those who want to spend less than a grand on a new laptop. You're still stuck with Intel's third-generation Core processors (a.k.a. Ivy Bridge), but they are capable Core i5 or i7 chips. For $749, you can get a Fit 14 with a 1,600x900 touchscreen, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive and 8GB of solid-state memory to speed up booting times. The Fit 15 is similarly configured, but for $50 more you get a 15.5-inch full HD screen (1,920x1,080). You also get a choice of black, silver, or pink chassis options (the pink is Fit 14 only). The Fit E models are a couple of hundred dollars cheaper, but base configurations lack touchscreens, include slower processors, and don't include the hybrid storage option.