Why The Radioshack 3G Acer Aspire One Netbook Deal Almost Sucks

by Jay Bika on December 12, 2008 · 10 comments

in Acer,Netbook Buying Guide,Opinion

Netbooks are no fad. I have said it many times (Are Netbooks a Fad?). This new category is just a niche that may one day overtake the full-fledged notebook category.

One of the proofs (another one being corporate adoption. See: Prediction: Why Netbooks Are Going Corporate in 2009) that the netbook movement is going to really explode in 2009 and beyond is the fact that there are now many offers that promise a netbook for a really low price in exchange for a subscription to a mobile broadband plan just like it’s done in the mobile phone industry.

While this concept is still new, it’s not very difficult to figure out if it’s worth it from a buyer’s perspective. It’s just a matter of looking at the mobile phone situation.

The first of such deals include a netbook for about $99 and a commitment to sign-up for a two year contract. In Australia, some offers actually give away the netbook for free! (See: At Last, One Way to Get a Free Dell Netbook. Yes, There’s a Catch)

Is it worth it?

Like most things in life, it depends.

People are saying that in the case of the Radio Schack deal (where you get a $99 Acer Aspire One netbook with integrated 3G wireless technology if you sign-up for a two-year plan AT&T mobile broadband plan that start at $60/month), ultimately the netbook will cost $1540. (See: How to Buy an Acer Aspire for only $100. But there’s a “But!”)

Such observers say that you will be spending $1540 while you could get the Acer Aspire One netbook for around $300. In their opinion, it’s a total rip-off.

While it may look so, it’s really not because at the end of the day, it’s not as if you’re not using your mobile broadband. In other words, you are getting an Internet service on top of a mini-laptop.

If you’re always on the move and want Internet access everywhere and are comfortable with owning a computer for two years without needing an upgrade or replacement, this deal is worth considering.

On the other hand, if you find yourself changing computers like you change, err, socks and you really don’t need mobile broadband because everywhere you go there’s a Wi-Fi signal that you can tap into, these types of deals are not worth your consideration.

In my case for instance, I know that 2009 will be the year of the netbook where new faster models will be introduced that feature longer battery life, better design, better prices (ie: cheaper than what’s found today) and with more hard drive space.

As a computer user, I replace my machines every year. I am also lucky to live in a city where there’s free Wi-Fi almost everywhere I find myself daily so while I am on the move, I can always stay connected.

So, the thought of being stuck in a contract with an Acer Aspire one netbook or other ultraportable notebook that I got for a “deal” in exchange of a two year marriage, does not appeal to me at all.

A) I want to be able to replace my netbook without being forced to pay for the older one B) I am not that much in a hurry to be needing mobile broadband (another consideration: the more popular data plans get, the cheaper they will get).

Should you seriously consider the Radio Shack type deals?

Yes if you’re comfy with using a netbook for two years and if you really need the mobile broadband and find the prices fair.

No if you don’t need mobile broadband after all and if you want the freedom to change netbooks whenever you want.

{ 6 trackbacks }

Netbook Era’s Weekly Digest: 7th-14th December 2008
December 15, 2008 at 2:28 am
Black Friday Deal: An Acer 8.9″ Aspire One Netbook for $350 | EEENetbook.com
September 12, 2009 at 9:23 pm
Black Friday Deal: Acer Aspire One @ $249.99 | EEENetbook.com
September 12, 2009 at 9:24 pm
Acer Aspire One Review | EEENetbook.com
September 12, 2009 at 9:25 pm
The Acer Aspire One A110 Netbook Review | EEENetbook.com
September 12, 2009 at 9:29 pm
Where To Find An Even Lower Acer Aspire One Netbook Deal | EEENetbook.com
September 12, 2009 at 9:39 pm

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jon December 12, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Can’t you transfer the wireless data account to another device? I have never had a laptop with WWAN integrated (but have had several 3G cards, USB/PCMCIA/ExpressCard), but it would only make sense to be transferrable. In the case of AT&T’s service there should be a SIM card involved. For EV-DO service there’s just an EIN on each device that you have to switch with your carrier (most if not all let you do this online). Either way you can transfer to another device. You’re still locked into a contract, but at least you can upgrade your computer.

2 Jay Bika December 12, 2008 at 12:21 pm

“You’re still locked into a contract, but at least you can upgrade your computer.” That’s what I mean.
You can still transfer the data plan to another device just the way you do it with a mobile phone when you want to use a new unit.

3 Secondarne December 12, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Even compared to other similar offers this one doesn’t sound especially attractive: Here in Germany you get an Acer Aspire One 150X *for free* from T-Mobile when you sign up for a two-year UMTS plan which is 39,90€ (around 50$). The plan is called a flat rate but throttles down the data transmission after 5GB monthly traffic; by itself iz goes for the same price as with the AAO included. And the plan is transferable to other devices.

4 Jay Bika December 12, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Why are you trying to make us jealous? ;) You know that in North America, we are not as blessed as Europe and Asia-Pacific as far as broadband deals are concerned. For instance, poor Canadians would have to commit to a three year plan that includes ho-hum mobile Internet speeds.

But I hear you. That’s one reason I also said to stand still for a bit because the more carriers join the netbook era, the more competitive the deals are going to get which ultimately benefits the consumer.

Say you are a professional blogger and can deduct this as business expense. If you can spend a 100 bucks on a netbook and 60 bucks a month on mobile Internet and be able to blog from wherever you are, it’s a pretty good deal if your blog grosses more than $30k in ad revenues. If you are a student on a tight budget and crippled with debts, who just needs to check email and Facebook and you take this deal, it’s money wasted.

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