Go Back to School With a Free XBox One

If you're a parent or a high school grad looking for a deal on a college laptop, you might want to check out the new back-to-school special from Microsoft. Starting today and running through August 14, the company is offering a study-and-play bundle featuring a Surface laptop and an XBox One game console for as little as $878.  

For the computer, you get to choose between a Surface Book and a Surface Pro 4. We recommend both models in our Ratings.

On paper, this sounds like a can't-miss deal, but it doesn't make sense for serious gamers. The video-game console in the bundle will be outdated by this fall when Microsoft releases the more powerful Xbox One S. That model supports 4K video and HDR technology for better color accuracy, and it's 30 percent smaller than the current model.

For casual gamers and TV owners looking for a streaming media device, though, this Microsoft offer is really attractive. The Xbox One can handle a variety of streaming services—Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu, and more—and, if you buy certain “Xbox Play Anywhere” games, you can enjoy them on either the console or a Windows PC.

As part of the deal, the XBox One, which usually starts at $219, comes with an extra controller, a $50 Microsoft Store gift card, and a free game ("Just Dance 2016," the racing game "The Crew," or "Assassin’s Creed Unity").

The Surface Pro 4 generally starts at $659. It has a 128GB solid-state drive, a battery-friendly Intel Core m3 processor, and 4GB of RAM, along with a Surface Pen for drawing and note-taking. The convertible computer-or-tablet design and flexible kickstand make it ideal for on-the-go undergrads, especially those who like to doodle or sketch between banging out term papers.

The Surface Book, which starts at $1,259, is also a convertible but has the more powerful Intel Core i5 processor and a slightly larger screen (13.5 vs. 12.3 inches).

Copyright © 2005-2016 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.