Although Black Friday and the January sales can be a brilliant chance to bag a bargain, it’s also an opportunity for retailers to clear the warehouse of stock that you shouldn’t touch with a bargepole.
Take the three laptops we’ve picked out below, for example. With dull screens, awful battery life and cripplingly slow processors, you should steer well clear, regardless of how tempting the price may be. Two of the models are so terrible, in fact, that we’ve branded them with our dreaded Don’t Buy logo.
So if you find yourself heading towards the checkout with any of these in hand, turn around and pick up one of our recommended alternatives instead.
Best Buy laptops – at the opposite end of the spectrum, see the best laptops on test
Lenovo Ideapad 110 – 41%
Want to know which is our very worst laptop on test? The dubious ‘honour’ goes to this pitiful large-screen laptop from prolific manufacturer Lenovo.
We have scarcely a kind word at all to say about the Ideapad 110 – it’s a catalogue of errors. First and foremost is the painfully ponderous processor, which struggles with even the most basic tasks. We hadn’t expected much from the 1.6GHz Intel Celeron chip and 4GB Ram but, in this day and age, nobody should be left waiting every time you open a web-browser window or right-click the mouse.
Speaking of the touchpad, it feels rough and cheap to navigate with. The screen, measuring 15.6 inches diagonally, is a big flop that looks dull and lifeless. And music fans have things no better, as the shrill speakers pump out distorted audio.
Instead, try the HP Pavilion x360 15 (68%) – Large-screen laptops are generally more expensive than portable machines. But you can pick up the 15-inch HP Pavilion x360 for under £500. It includes a pretty speedy Intel Core i3 processor with 8GB Ram and a huge 1TB hard drive to hold your music, files and photos. Although it lacks the bells and whistles that would propel it into Best Buy territory, it’s very good for the price indeed.
Lenovo Ideapad 100 – 43%
We can see why the Lenovo Ideapad 100 would end up on many buyers’ shortlist. For a smidge over £200, you get a 15-inch Windows 10 laptop with a 2.16GHz processor, 500GB of storage and a DVD drive. It ticks a lot of boxes.
But our unique testing shows that you should strike a line through this option. It’s a shocker. Similar to its stablemate above, Ideapad 100 users have to endure a dismal but reflective 1,366 x 768-resolution display and a surprisingly small touchpad that feels cheap and laggy.
If you do decide to lug the 2kg beast around with you, make sure you know where your nearest plug socket will be: the battery only lasts about three hours. And for a laptop that clearly considers itself a replacement for your traditional desktop PC, only two USB ports seems stingy.
Instead, try the Lenovo Ideapad 700 (75%) – Not all Lenovo laptops are lousy. In fact, some score extremely well indeed. Take the brilliant 15-inch Ideapad 700, for example. It’s everything the 100 isn’t: speedy, splendid to use and with a superb screen. OK, so it will cost quite a lot more, but £700 is great value for a laptop this good. Keep an eye open to see if you can get a Black Friday bargain.
Asus X453 – 47%
We’re not entirely sure what the X of the Asus X453 stands for, but we’d certainly put a big red cross against this laptop. Thankfully, it’s not widely available anymore, but be sure to ignore it if you do see it on a shelf or online.
Its laughable specifications mean that, even at £180, it would be a complete waste of money – 2GB Ram is almost unheard of these days – and combined with the humble Celeron processor, the X453 will leave you pulling your hair out as you wait for it to execute simple instructions. The 14-inch screen and 1.64kg weight suggest that Asus thinks of it as a portable PC. If that’s the case, then the maximum four-and-a-half hours’ battery life is frankly embarrassing.
The atrocious keyboard, laggy trackpad and pixelated display all compound the problems. As we say in our review, it’s your choice whether you use it as very cheap laptop or a very expensive paperweight.
Instead, try the Asus E200 (73%) – Asus finally got the formula for a small-screen budget laptop spot on with the Best Buy Asus E200. We couldn’t quite believe how good it is. Combining its lightweight, portable build with an excellent battery life, decent screen and smooth, responsive touchpad, the way it’s designed doesn’t even feel cheap, either. And on top of all this, you’ll get change from £200.