Acer's Yuletide Special: A $99 Netbook

Can it be true? The US$99 netbook may be about to arrive in the United States courtesy of RadioShack and AT&T. A leaked flyer shows that from December 14-December 20, the electronics retailer will be offering an Acer Aspire One for just $99.99 if you sign up for a two-year data contract worth $60 or more from AT&T, according to Endgadget.

The RadioShack Acer Aspire One comes with Windows XP Home edition, 1 GB of Ram, an 8.9-inch screen, webcam, and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi. This version is specially loaded with a 160 GB hard drive (usually 120 GB) and built-in 3G.   According to the ad, you can still get the computer without a data plan for $499.

It's possible that this may be a yuletide hoax, but discussions about a $99 netbook have been around for a few months now. Recent candidates to offer a super-cheap netbook included HP, Asus, and Dell, and rumors about a Coby laptop in the $99 range were floated just last week. Instead, the first out of the gate seems to be Acer, the world's third largest computer maker.

If you're thinking about taking advantage of this offer, watch out for the carefully worded mobile contracts. Not only do you have to factor in a minimum of $60 for a monthly data plan, but what about those pesky surcharges and taxes? Let's assume another five dollars per month since you probably won't have to pay the 911 surcharges and other phone-specific fees. Then you have your activation fee, at least another $30. So over two years you can expect to pay just shy of $1700.   Is that worth it for Internet access on a device that puts to shame any smartphone? Perhaps, but most people will also be shelling out for a cell phone, too.

Netbooks have been all the rage in recent months, as prices for the high-powered mini-laptops have dropped significantly. During Cyber Monday (December 1) they were an extremely hot item on Amazon; you may even find one atop your tech lover's Christmas wish list.

This story, "Acer's Yuletide Special: A $99 Netbook" was originally published by PCWorld.

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