This week, you can get a free 4 pack of…
More and more schools these days require laptop-toting students to use Microsoft Office. And that means if you’re shopping for a new machine for your college-bound senior, starting middle-schooler, or anyone in between, plan on spending at least another $120 for Microsoft’s ridiculously overpriced suite.
Or not, if you take advantage of this deal: Best Buy is offering Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 for free when you buy select laptops and ultrabooks. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the words “Microsoft Office” and “free” in the same sentence. Guess there’s a first time for everything.
The deal works like this: Choose any of the 47 systems from the Microsoft Premium Collection and you’ll automatically get a product key card for Office Home and Student 2010. Also included: a one-year subscription to Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus 2012, which itself is a $40 value.
You can take advantage of this offer via Best Buy’s Web site or in any Best Buy brick-and-mortar. Shipping is included if you opt for the former, though you’ll still be on the hook for sales tax (in most states).
“Microsoft Premium Collection” is just code for laptops that meet certain specs: an AMD A8-series or Intel Core i3 processor, at least 4GB of RAM, and snazzy bling like brushed aluminum, backlit keyboards, and so on.
Of course, because these aren’t low-end laptops, they don’t have low-end prices — but there are three models priced at $499.99, and they’re all pretty decent. For example, the Toshiba P745-S4102 features 6GB of RAM, a 750GB hard drive, and a 14-inch display. Or, get a larger screen and a bit less storage with the Samsung NP300E5A-A02UB, which offers a 15.6-inch display a 500GB hard drive.
A handful of models have even larger screens (usually 17.3 inches), but I don’t recommend them for students; they’re far too large and heavy to tote comfortably in a backpack.
Speaking of comfort, the aforementioned $500 systems weigh 5-6 pounds — still a lot to shoulder. If you’re willing to spend more, you can get an ultrabook — which, by definition, weighs three pounds or less.
One great choice: the $999.99 Dell XPS Ultrabook XPS13-925SLV , which features a 13.3-inch screen, 128GB solid-state drive, and 3-pound chassis. Plus, it measures an impressively svelte 0.7 inches thick.
I like this Best Buy offer. As I mentioned before, it’s exceedingly rare to get Microsoft Office for free, so if you’re in the market for a laptop anyway, I’d definitely start my search here.
That said, there are any number of cheap or free Office alternatives that are fine for students — assuming their school doesn’t require Microsoft’s suite.