Black Friday prognosticators expected a slew of dirt-cheap Windows 10 devices to capitalize on the launch of Microsoft's latest OS during the busy holiday shopping. How cheap? We're talking $95 laptops and $49 tablets.
For whatever reasons, the large anticipated number of systems hitting those price points hasn't materialized. That doesn't mean there are no budget PCs available this Black Friday -- far from it. It just means that you have to temper your expectations a bit in terms of the variety of devices available.
The absolute cheapest Windows notebook we've seen advertised this Black Friday is a Windows 7 Lenovo ThinkPad with dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, and 11.6-inch for $117 as a Black Friday doorbuster at regional electronics retailer Fry's. If you want the latest OS, Office Depot/OfficeMax has a Toshiba Satellite with Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of built-in storage for $119.99. The merged office superstore has a 14-inch HP with similar specs as the Satellite but for $5 more.
Best Buy has something a little more portable in the form of the 10.1-inch Acer One, a Windows 10 notebook with Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of built-in storage for $129.99. Another Fry's Black Friday doorbuster is a 15.6-inch Asus laptop running Windows 8.1 with 4 gigs of RAM and 500GB for $137, though that price includes a $30 mail-in rebate. Best Buy is offering a similarly spec'd Asus for $140, but equipped with Windows 10 instead. Rounding out the laptops priced at $150 or lower is an Inspiron 14 3000 laptop with an Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of solid-state storage inside a 14-inch chassis, available direct from Dell for $149.99 starting at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
Microsoft started discounting Windows to device manufacturers to get just in time for the tablet market to crater. Nonetheless, there are a few sales on Windows slates available on Black Friday, though none close to the predicted $49 price point. Fry's again is as cheap at it gets with its Thursday doorbuster of a $77 Ematic 8.9-inch Windows 8.1 tablet with detachable keyboard and a Friday one of an $87 Vulcan 8-inch Windows 10 model also with detachable keyboard but just 16GB of built-in storage.
Another regional electronics retailer, Micro Center, has the WinBook TW802 Windows 8.1 tablet with Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of built-in storage for $99.99, though this appears to be the current price on (despite Micro Center's ad promoting this as a Black Friday special). If you prefer a more familiar name brand, Office Depot/OfficeMax has 10.1-inch Toshiba Encore with 32GB of storage running Windows 8.1 for $89.99 as a Thanksgiving doorbuster starting at 6 p.m.
As unlikely as it might seem, there's a lower Black Friday price on a Windows desktop than a laptop. If you stay up until Thanksgiving turns to Black Friday, you can grab the Inspiron Micro desktop containing a Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of solid-state storage from Dell for a mere $99.99. Other deals fall on the other end of $100, but less than $200, such as a Lenovo Slimline svelte tower with AMD E1 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 500GB hard drive for $169.99 from Office Depot/OfficeMax, or an Asus Mini PC with Celeron CPU, 4GB of memory, 500GB hard drive, and Windows 8.1 for $179.99 from Newegg.