SLIDESHOW

10 Black Friday laptop deals that pass the crap test

Most post-Thanksgiving notebook bargains skimp on something. We scrutinize the specs and tell you what's worth checking out.

Something for everyone

It’s a good season for attractive laptop prices, but Black Friday (or Thursday night) has its share of dubious deals as well. We've scrutinized the specs and found deals on MacBooks, ultraportables, Chromebooks, and convertibles that pass the crap test.

And don't despair, late risers: We've found deals for you, too.

We believe that all of these deals will be in effect in the seller's brick-and-mortar stores; check each store's site to see whether they are also online.

Best Buy: 13-inch MacBook Pro, $1099 (regularly $1299)

Specs: A 13.3-inch Retina display, a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 (Haswell) processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, a webcam, two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Mac OS X Mavericks.

Description: Paying more than $1000 for a laptop doesn't sound like an activity squarely in the spirit of Black Friday deals, but getting $200 off the latest MacBook model does. For anyone who has had an eye on Apple's laptop line, this is one of the best deals you'll find–short of buying a used MacBook.

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Staples: Microsoft Surface RT (first generation) with Touch Cover, $250 (regularly $400)

Specs: A 10.6-inch display with 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, a 1.7GHz Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, 32GB of storage, HDMI-out, one USB 2.0 port, a card reader, and a Touch Cover.

Description: The Surface isn't exactly a laptop, but it is a Windows machine that includes a keyboard as part of the deal. Its Windows RT operating system has a small fan base at best, but the Surface RT does come with its own version of Microsoft Office.

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Best Buy: 15.6-inch Dell Inspiron I15RV-1952BLK, $178 (regularly $400)

Specs: A 15.6-inch display with 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB HDD, an eight-in-one media card reader, a webcam, two USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and 64-bit Windows 8.

Description: Tech-savvy types won't want this laptop, but anyone else who needs a no-nonsense laptop will find such a dirt-cheap clamshell hard to turn down. This Dell laptop is serviceable for browsing the Web, working with Word and Excel files, and other basic operations. Just don't try to edit your next Hollywood blockbuster on it.

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Staples: HP Pavilion-CNR 14-inch Chromebook, $178 (regularly $280)

Specs: A 14-inch display with 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, a 1.1GHz Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, a 16GB SSD, Bluetooth, a webcam, and 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi.

Description: If you know someone who uses a laptop as a glorified Web-browsing machine, why not buy them an actual, glorified Web-browsing machine? This older-model Chromebook pales in comparison to its successor, but it has one thing most Chromebooks lack: a 14-inch display. And at this price, it's cheaper than all those smaller models, too.

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Dell: Inspiron 15, $300 (regularly $400)

Specs: A 15.6-inch display with 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, a 1.8GHz Intel Core i3 (Ivy Bridge) processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB of storage, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a multicard reader, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Windows 8.

Description: As if to prove that you don't have to line up on Thanksgiving night to take advantage of a great deal. Dell will start offering this cheapo starting at 2 p.m. Eastern Time/11 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday. The Inspiron 15 offers a good amount of storage, a fairly good processor, and all the ports you'll need.

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Microsoft Store: Dell Inspiron 11 3000, $300 (regularly $380)

Specs: An 11.6-inch touch display with 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, a 1.4GHz Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, a 500GB HDD, an HDMI port, a multicard reader, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Windows 8.

Description: Dell's Inspiron 11 special skimps on many things: The processor is midgrade, the amount of storage space is average, and it has very little RAM. But at $300 for a touch-enabled, lightweight laptop running Windows 8, Dell's mini-Inspiron earns a spot on this list.

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[Also available at Dell]

Office Max: Toshiba Satellite C55-A5386, $300 (regularly $500)

Specs: A 15.6-inch display with 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, a 2.5GHz Intel Core i3-3120M (Ivy Bridge) processor, 4GB of RAM, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, a 500GB HDD, and Windows 8.

Description: Most Black Friday laptops we've seen in the $300 range amble along with an Intel Celeron processor or slower Core i3, but not this Toshiba special at Office Max. The spec list lacks detail on ports and other niceties, though, so this is one bargain you'd better check out in person.

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Office Depot: HP Pavilion TouchSmart 11-e015nr, $270 (regularly $500)

Specs: An 11.6-inch display with 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, a 1.4GHz AMD A6 quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB HDD, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, one HDMI port, a card reader, a webcam, and Windows 8.

Description: Another cheapo touchscreen Windows 8 laptop similar to the Dell Inspiron 11 3000. You won't find an Intel processor with this Pavilion clamshell. It also has less storage space, fewer ports, and no Bluetooth. But you will get more RAM, which should help with performance.

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Office Max: Toshiba Satellite S55-A5376, $600 (regularly $830)

Specs: A 15.6-inch display with 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-3630QM (Ivy Bridge) processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, one USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-out, a webcam, a DVD drive, and Windows 8.

Description: It doesn't have Bluetooth, but this laptop comes with an excellent processor, a good amount of RAM, a gigantic hard drive, and a reasonable number of USB ports. Its only downside is that, loaded with a hard drive and an old-fashioned optical drive, this laptop tips the scales at 5.3 pounds.

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Staples: Lenovo Flex Dual-Mode Laptop, $580 (regularly $730)

Specs: A 15.6-inch touch display with 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, a 2.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U (Haswell) processor, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB HDD, 8GB of flash storage, a card reader, a 720p webcam, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, and Windows 8.

Description: Now we're talking: the latest-generation Intel Core processor, a healthy amount of RAM, a hybrid hard drive, a touchscreen, and a convertible clamshell. At less than $600, this laptop-tablet-whatchamacallit gives you a very good reason to visit Staples on Friday.

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