The 3 Best Laptop Computers Under $300

Three bills. That’s all you need to get a quality laptop. It won’t be a laptop with a huge screen or an ultra-fast processor. It won’t run complex video-editing programs or graphics-intensive games. But it can be a laptop that’s lightweight, well-built and more than capable of performing the basic array of computer tasks — emailing, web surfing, streaming videos, running spreadsheets and word processors, et al — if you know which ones to buy.

Spot Cool Stuff took a look every laptop computer that’s available for $300 or less. Here’s a review of our three favorites:

The Acer C720, which, amazingly costs less than $200!

The HP Chromebook 14, with head-turning looks and a 9-hour battery life.

The Gateway LT41P04u, which runs a full version of Windows 8 and features a touchscreen.

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6 Cool End-of-the-Year Tech Deals

Is it the best point-and-shoot camera you can buy? Definitely not. But is it the best value? Heck yes, says Spot Cool Stuff.

It’s Cyber Monday! Online deals for gadgets and electronic stuff abound. But which products are a genuine good deal as opposed to only being, well, cheap?

Here’s a look at six tech products in the former category. Our selections range greatly in price (from $35 to almost $5,000) but each represents a high value in its own way. Each is also an item Spot Cool Stuff loves.

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The QOOQ Cooking Tablet
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If you are a cook and a gadget lover then chances are high that you’ve used your tablet computer in the kitchen. Tablets make outstanding kitchen companions. They can serve up nearly limitless recipes, cooking tips, instructional videos, background music and means for digitally sharing your culinary creations with the world, all in a device that’s significantly smaller and lighter than your typical cookbook.

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The iPad Mini Versus the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD

When the iPad first launched, then Apple CEO Steve Jobs remarked in an interview that the company would never built a 7-inch version of its tablet. Customers, he said, wouldn’t want them.

Since then two things have happen. First, sadly, Steve Jobs has passed away. And, second, a slew of 7-inch tablets have rocketed in popularity, cutting significantly into Apple’s market share. Three tablets in particular saw their sales climb: the Google Nexus 7, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Barnes & Noble Nook HD.

The combination of both of those events lead Apple to launch their own 7-inch tablet: The Apple iPad mini. So how does it compare to those competitors mention above? Our review:

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The Amazon Kindle Fire HD Tablets

That didn’t take long. No sooner did Google announce the Nexus 7, a sub-$200 tablet aimed at directly competing with the Kindle Fire, that Amazon made an announcement of its own. In a move that one-ups Google — and perhaps Apple, Sony & Samsung too — Amazon is launching the next generation of Kindle Fire eBook reader-tablet, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

The Kindle Fire HD will be available in three models. Collectively, they go a long way towards addressing the complaints that several reviewers (including Spot Cool Stuff) have made about what is now the “old” Kindle Fire.

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Best Tablet Computers for Students

Tablet computers are joining backpacks, bicycles and beer pong tables as essential items for university and college students. Some students in high school (and earlier) are taking tablets to class too.

On a tablet a student can read (and purchase) textbooks, manage a to-do list, keep a calendar of assignments, take notes in class, conduct research, check email, collaborate with other students, use educational apps and, of course, procrastinate with Angry Birds. On many tablets you can write or edit papers too.

As such, a good tablet computer for a student is one with a long battery life, with enough processing power to run high-end apps and with a screen that’s especially easy to read. Students tend to type more on their tablet than typical users, so a large, responsive on-screen keyboard can be essential.

There’s another consideration when choosing your tablet: The operating system prevalent the institution where the tablet will be used. Some schools are very Apple and Mac oriented. Others are more Chrome- and Google-centric.

With that in mind, here are Spot Cool Stuff’s tablet recommendations for students. As always, you can click on the category that most interests you or continue reading on after the jump.

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How To Best Configure a MacBook Pro with Retina Display
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Previously, Spot Cool Stuff wrote about how to best configure an Apple Macbook Pro laptop. But, with the new product launch from Apple, that advice pertains to what is now the “old” Macbook (still available on eBay but otherwise not sold in stores).

The latest MacBook Pro now features a retina display; comprised of an incredible 5.1 million (!) pixels, it’s the world’s highest resolution screen of any consumer laptop. The new MacBook Pro is also lighter, thinner and significantly faster and more power than its predecessor.

So what are the best configuration options to choose when purchasing a new MacBook Pro with retina display?

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The Google Nexus 7 vs Kindle Fire

It seems that nearly every large electronics company is getting into the tablet computer business. So no surprise that Google is too. The company recently announced its Google Nexus 7, a tablet that takes direct at Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

Like the Fire, the Nexus 7 is designed primarily to read eBooks and watch videos. Like the Fire, the Nexus 7 has a 7-inch screen. And both tablets (when configured with 8GB internal memory) sell for exactly the same price: $199.

So which tablet is better? Our review comparison:

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