Cash was tight back when I was in college, so I bought a [refurbished] laptop for $250 on tigerdirect if I recall...no complaints! Then again, my projects rarely see over a few hundred files not including dependencies.
Cheap laptops usually:
- have poor plactic casing
- have TN displays with poor viewing angles, low luminance and low resolution like 1366x768 (low-end TN is much worse than high-end TN which is much worse than PVA or IPS).
- have low-capacity batteries lasting for only a 2-3 hours instead of 6-10
- have poor-quality batteries that are gone after a year or two
- have slow spinning HDDs (usually 5400 RPMs) instead of SSDs or SSD+HDD hybrid - this alone is a tremendous performance difference even for simple tasks like launching a webbrowser or booting a system
- are noisy - the fans run all the time,
- don't offer a docking station solution
- are not Linux compliant
I have none of them problems except the battery (Which can be replaced but I never need to have it unplugged for more then 3 hours anyways) with my Samsung laptop I purchased for $350 and then spent another $70 bucks for a SSD instead of paying $200 or more that high end ones charge for it.
And personally them issues don't warrant me spending a extra $2,000 on a laptop. But that is just my opinion.