Ever since the Carphone Warehouse started giving away free laptops with their home broadband (back in the days when companies were worried that consumers would never switch from dial-up internet access) companies have used free computers to entice new customers to use their services.
Since those first offers home broadband providers have moved away from this marketing trick.
However, there are now a wealth of broadband deals from mobile broadband providers offering the same thing.
There is much talk that free laptops with mobile broadband are never a good deal. They’re certainly not always a good broadband deals and they’ve never completely completely free but it’s a falsehood that they’re always bad for three reasons.
First, many people who protest that ‘free’ laptops are not free at all fail to take into account the cost of a mobile broadband contract. These often cost as much as £5-7 for 1GB of data a month.
By buying mobile broadband in a bundle with a laptop consumers can often make significant savings on these costs overall.
For example, any decent Samsung R530 review would point out that it’s actually around £150 cheaper to get the laptop in a mobile broadband deal than to buy the laptop and mobile broadband as separate products.
Second, mobile broadband with free laptop deals allow consumers to spread the cost of a large purchase in a much more effective way than borrowing the money and having to pay it back.
If the alternative to the lump-sum payment of buying a laptop is borrowing a high interest rate then a free laptop deal is a much better idea.
Of course, the ideal would be to do neither and save up the money so a free laptop deal is really more of a halfway house.
The third reason, is exclusive deals. Sometime broadband companies that do free laptop deals get hold of computers that no other company is stocking.
Free laptop deals are therefore sometimes the only way to pick up a laptop which could be the best for deal for the consumer.
The Asus 100HGO netbook is a good recent example of this trend. It’s currently only available from Orange.
These examples show that although the free laptop is as elusive as the free lunch it certainly does exist and offers a good deal for many consumers.
Unfortunately, the high costs of many laptop deals – coupled with poor customer support – have given them a bad reputation in the past, one which is not entirely unjustified even to this day.