$99 Laptop with Built-In Wireless Aircard

Can you actually get a notebook computer with a built-in aircard for under $100? Yes and No.

The Acer Aspire One, a mini-notebook computer, is being sold by Radio Shack for $99. It comes with an AT&T wireless modem aircard built in. Here's the catch. You have to sign up for a wireless service plan through AT&T for 2 years. It'll cost you about $60 per month, just like most other data plans.

By buying this computer with its built-in wireless modem (aircard) and paying for the service plan, you can walk out of Radio Shack with a computer that connects to the internet from nearly anywhere in AT&T's network.

However, there are some disadvantages. You will be committed to a two year Laptop Connect account through AT&T, and if you back out, you'll have to pay more for the laptop. Also, the built in aircard is less flexible than the typical aircard that slides into a card slot, express card slot, or usb port. You can only use it with that one computer because it is actually inside the computer.

The $99 laptop in question is an Acer Aspire One. This is a new genre of notebook called a netbook. It's called that because it is primarily designed for remote web surfing. It has a smaller screen than the average laptop and is lighter and more portable. It has 1 GB of Ram and a 160 GB hard drive.

The 3G aircard that is built inside the computer can connect to the internet at high speed, probably between 500kbs and 7mbs like most current aircards and usb wireless modems.

If I were looking for a small, simple laptop to use for surfing the web, email, and light tasks, and I wanted to connect from anywhere, I would be very interested in this offer, and I'd be on the look out for others. I bet if Radio Shack is doing this, other retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City won't be far behind with their own cheap notebooks with built in aircards.

This post has been updated. Radio Shack lowered their price.

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