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Back-to-school laptop deals you can't miss

If you're a student in need of a new laptop, now is the time to buy. Here is a back-to-school guide for getting the best price on the laptop that's right for you.

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    An Acer Aspire laptop, left, and a Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Touch are seen at a demo table at a Microsoft event in San Francisco.
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It's hard to believe, but the time has come to pack up your beach bags and bust out the backpack. If you're a student in need of a new laptop, now is the time to buy. With help from our tech editors, David and Michael, we put together this back-to-school guide for getting the best price on the laptop that's right for you.

Apple is offering free Beats headphones with select Mac purchases.

Yes, Apple computers are top of the line, but they're also very expensive. Unless your school or program specifies that you NEED one, you're probably going to be just fine opting for a cheaper brand that gives you access to the internet and a decent word processing program. That being said, there are ways to get deals on Apple products if you've got your heart set on the latest MacBook.

Apple gives education discounts for both students and educators year-round, but right now, they're sweetening the pot by offering a free pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones with select laptop purchases.

The Beats offer ends 9/5, but if you're not in need of a new pair of headphones, another way to get great deals on an Apple laptop is by buying refurbished. We covered this in great detail a few months back in our blog post, The Case for Apple Refurbs: Why New Isn't Always Better, so check that out if you want more information on why buying refurbished is just as good as buying brand new from Apple. Basically, they back their refurbs with the same one-year extendable warranty they give new products. Browse through their current selection of refurbished laptops here.

Don't discount third-party retailers who sell Apple products.

Yes, buying direct from the Apple store (or the Apple Refurb store) is the only way to get access to the Apple warranty and the Apple Geniuses themselves, but if you're looking for actual discounts on Apple products, don't discount third-party retailers like B&H Photo, who offer best-of-web pricing on MacBooks every day.

Tech editor David called out B&H specifically in his recent article on common shopping mistakes that waste money:

"Any time we post a great deal on a TV or laptop from a large retailer like Walmartor Best Buy, it usually sells really well. Yet if we post an even better deal on a similar item from a smaller reputable dealer like B&H Photo, it's typically not as popular. We suspect this has something to do with name recognition, maybe some shoppers think only well-known retailers can provide truly good discounts? This is not the case at all!

In fact, of the several small tech dealers that we write about, like B&HBuyDigPC Richard & Son and Adorama, run great deals on some of the best tech items on the market. These are deals with lowest prices you will find online, and many of them offer free shipping and don't charge sales tax in most states because they have a smaller physical footprint. Plus, they are all authorized retailers, which is important when it comes to tech, because you want to make sure your warranties will be honored."

One major deal on B&H Photo right now? This 13.3-inch MacBook air for just $799Check out B&H Photo's selection of back-to-school MacBook deals here!

PC laptops are the best bang for the average college student's buck.

They might not be as fancy as that shiny new MacBook, but unless you're running programs like the Adobe Suites, doing a lot of video editing, or are enrolled in a program that specifically calls out the need to have a Mac, a Windows computer is a perfectly acceptable, half-price alternative!

Best Buy offers a year-round promotion for college students, that cuts $150 off select laptops and computers. This promotion applies to both Macs and PCs, and is also available on sale items as well. Check out all Best Buy's college student deals here!

Staples also has some decent laptops in their weekly deals section, and finally, here's a roundup of all the laptop deals we currently have live on Brad's Deals:

This story originally appeared on Brad's Deals.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

 
 
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