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Back-to-School Laptops for under $500

It’s that time of year again – time to start thinking about what the kids will need for a brand new year at school. If your plans involve a new laptop, then there are certainly plenty to choose from. But what if money is a little tight or you’re not comfortable shelling out $1,000 for a MacBook that could get left on the bus on day one?

Luckily, there is also plenty of choice at the lower end of the price scale, with some incredible deals surfacing just in time for the back-to-school market. And a lower price doesn't mean you have to sacrifice power or hard drive capacity; we know your teen's laptop needs to cope with those movie and song collections, as well as handle the occasional school project!

So here are three of the best: great deals on brand name laptops that will put a smile on any student's face…and leave a few extra bucks in your bank account!

Toshiba Satellite C650-ST6N01

Quick specs:
Intel Pentium Dual Core Processor
4GB RAM; 500GB hard drive
15.6-inch screen; 5.3lbs weight
Windows 7 Home Premium

An entry level laptop with amazing firepower at an affordable price. Intel Pentium Processor, 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive make this rugged machine one of the best deals on the market. Has all the features a teen would need including full wireless capability, a fully integrated webcam, and powerful speakers. No pretty colors to choose from, as everything is in a workman-like matt black, but if you are looking for no frills power, then this is the laptop for you!

Price: starting at $379.99
Where to buy: ToshibaDirect, Best Buy

Dell Inspiron 15 (N5050)

Quick specs:
Intel Dual-Core Processor
4GB RAM; 500GB hard drive
15.6-inch screen; 5.2lbs weight
Windows 7 Home Premium

A great workhorse laptop from a reliable brand name. Light enough to take anywhere and will fit right in at home, school, or on the road. Reliable, solid performance, with enough power to effortlessly run all those media applications. Plenty of jacks and USB ports to hook up to all their other entertainment systems and peripherals. Comes standard in black.

Price: from $449
Where to buy: Dell

HP 3115m Notebook Series

Quick specs:
AMD Dual-Core Processor
from 2GB RAM; 320GB hard drive
11.6-inch screen; 3.52lbs weight
Windows 7 Home Premium

More mobile than a laptop, more muscle than a netbook, this stylish and affordable hybrid includes everything a student needs, plus the reliability of the HP brand. Although the 11.6-inch screen takes it towards the netbook classification, it’s power and other features clearly distinguish it from its smaller cousins. The “island” keyboard makes for a very comfortable set-up and it’s light enough to throw into a backpack with plenty of room for books. Excellent battery life of up to 9.5 hours.

Price: from $389
Where to buy: HP, Best Buy

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