I think that most people can get by with a cheap laptop. I know many people suggest that you need to buy expensive laptops, but I believe that most people — those who primarily surf the web, watch videos, use spreadsheets and word processors — likely don’t need anything fancy.
An article from The Wire Cutter today agrees with me, well, mostly. I am happy with a sub $500 basic “cheap” Windows laptop. He thinks otherwise:
Chances are, if all you need is a cheap laptop, then a Chromebook would work just as well and offer better performance.
If you have only $500 to spend, then the cheap Windows laptop is your only option. It’ll do everything you need it to, but it’s large, bulky and has poor quality.
He recommends the following: Dell 34F2C CRM7310 13.3″ FHD Non-Touch Chromebook and the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook – Celeron 3855U, 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, Chrome
You can get additional information from his website: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-chromebook/
UPDATE: Dell has discontinued our top pick. We don’t see a Chromebook this good for the price on the horizon, so you should grab that Dell now if you’re considering it. Our runner-up, the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook, will replace it as our top pick, and the recently released Dell Chromebook 13 3380, which is designed for students, will be our new budget pick. The Dell 13 3380 has a dim, low-resolution screen with a blue tint and a shallow keyboard, but it’s the cheapest viable Chromebook, and it’s thinner and lighter than our previous budget pick, the Acer Chromebook 15. Look for a full update to this guide shortly.