Dell's outlet store is a fantastic place to buy computers, offering great pricing on refurbished and newly returned notebooks. Add in perpetual 20% off coupons (sometimes more), and you're talking nearly brand new computer for easily 40% off the new price. This gets better with the Business outlet, where you can find refurb Latitudes, which are at the moment my favorite business laptops (more stylish than ThinkPads, more solid than HP Compaqs, usually cheaper than both).
Particularly appetizing is the Dell E6400, the 14"/5lb mainstream staple in the Latitude lineup. In base configuration, it has a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400, 1GB RAM (easily upgraded), a smallish 80GB hard drive, the Intel Montevina platform with the GM45 chipset and GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics, a 14" LED backlit WXGA screen (with a matte finish, too), great build quality (brushed aluminum lid!), very good keyboard, and a trackpoint mouse.
What can all this hotness be had for? I've seen base E6400 refurbs go as low as $569 on the Dell Outlet, which, with the current 20% off coupon, comes out to $455 plus tax (free shipping too, bless their souls). Depending on how much tax is in your state, thats right around $500 for a well built and well designed business laptop that will last you for quite a while. Whats the catch? Its refurbished, but with a computer this recent, that doesn't really mean much. From what I've seen and heard, Dell factory refurb units are famed for their quality and condition.
I'm in love. I would do this in a heartbeat if I was in for a 14" notebook, but really, a 5lb unit just isn't what I'm looking for right now. I want something lighter and smaller so that I can leave the Asus at home, and preferably a business ultraportable that can take a beating. This is why the E6400 still attracts me - even if it is bigger, I know that it can take whatever I throw at it (or whatever I throw it at....not to imply that I abuse my laptops or anything.)
On a related tangent: The ultraportable Latitude E4200 (2.2lbs, 12" screen, no optical drive, 64GB SSD standard; just to refresh your memory) starts at $849 on the outlet store, with the base specs of 1.2GHz ULV processor, Montevina/GMA 4500MHD, Vista Business, and that sexy, sexy 64GB solid state drive. Add in the coupon and tax, you're looking at roughly $750 for an ultraportable that can slaughter any netbook. I mean, just compare it to the (admittedly overpriced) $699 Asus EEE S101 - double the computing power, double the amount of flash memory, better keyboard, and significantly more screen real estate in an enclosure that is just as thin and light as the EEE, for only $50 more? Sign me up, please.