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Microsoft Brings Back Their Back-To-School Deal– But Is It Worth It?

windows xbox college deal

Well it’s that time of year again. Yup, the school year is almost over, summer vacation is just weeks away and you know what that means: time for back-to-school deals to begin. Last year at this time Microsoft was just taking the wraps off of their back-to-school Windows PC deal and it was so good that this year their bringing it back. Yes, Microsoft will be giving away free 4 GB Xbox 360s with all new PC purchases of $699 or higher as well as a $15 upgrade to the all new Windows 8 when it comes out later this yearAnd like last year this deal applies to both high school and college students and all you gotta do to get this offer is show your Student ID if your buying in a store or a enter your .edu email address if you’re buying online (this is the email address your college gives you once you enroll).

Unlike last year however, this deal is available in more stores than just the Microsoft Store and Best Buy. In fact Best Buy, Dell.com, Fry’s Electronics, HPDirect.com, Microsoft Stores, and NewEgg.com are all partaking in this years deal.

windows 8 samsung series 5 hybrid 1The Samsung Series 5 Windows 8 Hybrid– one of the many new tablet/laptops you can expect later this year (pic via The Verge)

Now here’s the real question– is this deal worth it? Usually we’d say its a pretty much no brainer of a deal– I mean, you’re getting a brand new computer AND a free Xbox– but with Windows 8 coming later this year things are a bit more complicated. Windows 8 is a major upgrade over Windows 7, with one of its biggest updates being it’s completely optimized for tablets. Now that’s not to say that it doesn’t work well on “traditional” mouse and keyboard computers that don’t have touchscreens, just that later this year we can expect all new computers that look to combine the best of a tablet and a laptop (like the upcoming Samsung in the pic above. Think of it as having all the best of a tablet– apps, awesome battery life and really thin designs– combined with all the power of a normal Windows PC). So for $700-$800 you can get a full Windows computer AND a very good tablet in one.

The downside to this of course is that Windows 8 PCs and tablets aren’t expected to come out until September or October (or around the time school actually starts), so if you’re looking for a new PC we really would recommend to try to wait until then (and if you’re planning on buying a Mac we’d also recommend waiting a week as Apple is rumored to be updating its entire Mac line next Monday at their annual WWDC conference). If you need a new computer right now and can’t wait, then by all means this is stll a solid deal, if not for the Xbox then for the fact that you’ll get Windows 8 for just $15.

Again though, if you can, try to hold out a couple more months– trust us, it’ll be worth it.

Best Buy Pulls Out Of Microsoft’s Free Xbox 360 Back To School Deal

xbox 360 back to school deal

Looking to take advantage of Microsoft’s awesome back-to-school deal of a free Xbox 360 when you buy a new PC for $699 or more? Well, if you are then we recommend not picking up that new computer from Best Buy as they have pulled out of this back-to-school deal earlier this month. And while we couldn’t find out the reason that Best Buy isn’t offering this free 360 deal anymore, they have confirmed to us that they have stopped offering the deal.

HP, Dell, Amazon and the Microsoft Store are all still offering this deal (which runs until September 3rd and works as long as you have a high school or college student ID)– so if you were looking for a new computer at $699 or more and wanted that free 360 we recommend you look at one of them.

Looking For Textbooks For The Upcoming School Year? Then You Should Definitely Check Out Amazon

kindle textbook rentals

Viewing Kindle Textbooks from your computer

Before you run out to buy those textbooks for the upcoming school year you should really first go to Amazon. Amazon’s Kindle bookstore is now renting out textbooks at up to 80% off the price of the paper version of the same textbook. Yeah, this could be some major savings.

So here’s how the new textbook renting service works. You download the Amazon Kindle app for your PC, Mac, phone or tablet (that’s right– you don’t even need a Kindle), find the textbook you need in the Textbooks Store on Amazon’s site (they have “tens of thousands” available),  pick how long you need it for (anywhere from 30 days to a 360 days) and check out. That’s it. And if you find out that you need more time you can always extend the rental (from one more day to however many days you need to even buying the textbook outright if that makes more sense for you).

Once you check out you can read your textbook on any of the above devices so long as it has that Kindle app installed. You can even make notes which are saved online (at kindle.amazon.com) and viewable even after you “returned” the textbook (and if you re-rent the textbook later your notes will return to the places you made them).

So yeah, the textbook you need, for when you need it, at a much cheaper price AND it can fit anywhere from your computer to your pocket? Sounds like a great deal to us.

For more info on this awesome new deal from Amazon see their site here. If you want to see if they have the textbooks you need you can search their entire store here. And stay tuned– we’ve got a lot more to come to help make sure you’re ready for the upcoming school year.

Apple Announces Back To School Deal: Buy A New Mac And Get A Free $100 iTunes Gift Card

apple back to school 2011

Apple today finally took the wraps off its annual, highly anticipated back to school deal with a major new twist: the traditional free iPod Touch has been replaced with the new deal being the usual discounts on all Macs and a free $100 iTunes gift card that can be used in any of Apple’s iTunes stores (iTunes, App Store for iPhone/iPad, Mac App Store and iBookstore).

While we don’t know why Apple decided not to do free iPod Touches again this year (or even better, some discount on an iPad with the purchase of a new Mac) the deal, which runs from today, June 16th,  through September 20th, is still pretty good in our opinion. Think about it, most of us have iPods– or are using our phones as our iPods– now anyway so unless you really needed a new one, getting $100 to spend in iTunes and getting apps for your new Mac can be very valuable (as Apple puts it: “so you can get Pages, Numbers and Keynote for your studies. And still have plenty left for your study breaks.”). Oh, and the brand new, upcoming OS X Lion will be free to anyone who buys a new Mac now and before whenever the official launch date is, so you don’t have to worry about buying that for $30 next month either.

Now a lot of you want to know what’s different between this new 2011 Apple back-to-school deal and Microsoft’s offer of a free Xbox 360 with any new PC $699 or higher. There actually is a lot. Beyond the fact that Microsoft’s deal is cheaper (you can buy a PC for $699 and get the free 360 whereas the cheapest MacBook– the one from last year and not the new MacBook Pros— is $899 even after the $100 discount), Microsoft’s deal is also open for any current high school or college student unlike Apple’s which looks to be only college (the official language is “college students or students accepted to college” so incoming college freshmen you’re still good. Parents of college students and teachers of any grade are also eligible so if you’ve got a sibling in college or a nice teacher you can still get in on this deal). Microsoft is also giving away more in terms of the free add-on (an Xbox 360 4 GB is $200 whereas even if you include Lion in the Apple deal you’re still at $130).

I guess what it really comes down to which would you rather game on: Xbox 360 or Mac/iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch? Let us know your pick of which deal you think is better in the comments.

Info from Apple

Looking For A New PC For College? How About A Free New Xbox 360 To Go With It? (UPDATE: It Will Also Work For High School Students)

windows xbox college deal

Thought Apple’s usual back to school deal of a free iPod Touch with a new Mac was a good deal if you were looking for a new computer for college? Well this year we think you’re gonna wanna hear what Microsoft’s offering first. Beginning this Sunday, May 22nd, and running through September 3rd Microsoft will be giving away free 4 GB Xbox 360s with all new PC purchases of $699 or higher. All you gotta do to get this offer is show your Student ID if your buying in a store or a enter your .edu email address if you’re buying online (this is the email address your college gives you once you enroll). What? As we all know school, particularly college, is very stressful and there are many educational benefits to video games.

Sadly this deal looks to be for college students only so anyone looking for a new PC for high school won’t be able to take advantage of this offer (unless of course you have a college bound friend or sibling with the proper ID that’s willing to help you out). We’ve reached out to Microsoft to see if there are any deals for high school students and will update if we hear anything back.

So, what’s it gonna be for your new college computer– Mac and iTouch or PC and Xbox 360?

UPDATE: As Katie pointed out in the comments, this deal will work for high school students as well. If you are buying in a store (like at a Best Buy) all you have to do show your student ID and you should be ok (though to be on the safe side give your local store a call before you go in to make sure they are doing this deal and will accept a high school ID). If you’re buying online (like at Dell.com, HP.com etc.), and you don’t have a .edu email address, you should try chatting with an online sales rep or calling the company’s sales line (the phone numbers are usually listed at the top of the sites) to get the proper account numbers and links for where to buy your new PC and get your free Xbox.

[Thanks Katie!]

Via the Windows Blog