I would prefer to have a windows 7 laptop, but 8 is acceptable. I'm not aware of many good retail deals and I have no real idea of what makes a good laptop either. I'm hoping that any one of you fine people knows what I should get.
I think a better question is what are you trying to do with a $200 laptop? A chromebook might work for most of what you need it to do. You can even code using a cloud based IDE. But obviously there are certain things that might not work. I like how crafty sixQuarks was buying a cheap laptop and upgrading.
If you buy something used or refurbished you may be able to get what you need. Please provide more info what you are planning to do.
The biggest thing I'm planning to do is use it for homework and light disc burning. Mostly though, I don't just want to use the browser, I'm interested in something I can take to college this coming semester.
get a tablet and a wireless keyboard. Maybe a nexus 7. That way youcan be portable and type up stuff when you need to. Plus you could write notes on it, though. Some people like to do that on their tablet. (I usually don't) . The nexus 7 is a small tablet granted but it's powerful, built well and if you don't mind spending the time figuring it out, probaby producted. Plus wouldn't you like to have 8 hours of battery vs the 1.5 hours you'll get on a cheap laptop?