When free laptop broadband deals first appeared on the market last year, most assumed it would all be a flash in the pan. The offers were too good to be true and would surely fizzle out as retailers got cold feet after seeing millions rock out of the door in free laptops.
But we were wrong. The offers remain. £19.99 a month for two years is all you need to sign up to AOL Broadband at the Carphone Warehouse, though you will need to take their phone package as well (it’s £29.99 without). The AOL Broadband brand is owned by Carphone in the UK, in case you didn't know.
We asked Carphone to comment on its free laptop deals, why they thought they were so successful and whether they would be looking at extending the range in the future. All we got from their spokesperson was this: “AOL Broadband initially ordered 100,000 laptops to give away under the promotion, they proved popular among existing and new customers and sold out incredibly quickly.”
And what about now? Well clearly things have gone well enough for them to carry on making the offer, but not to talk about it.
Want mobile broadband?
What about going mobile? 3 currently has laptop and mobile broadband deals offered through Carphone Warehouse and PC World. “Carphone Warehouse are just offering a Acer Aspire 5315 laptop with their Broadband Plus deal at £35 a month. PC World has a number of them, although only one laptop is currently free,” explained a 3 spoksperson when quizzed about deals on offer. “The deals have proven popular with 3's customers.”
PC World is also currently offering money off a more expensive laptop if you don’t want to go for a cheap-as-chips freebie model. Various models are available, and taking an entertainment notebook such as the HP DV2750EA down to £399 from £699 might well appeal.
It doesn’t really make too much of dent on the MacBook Air’s price though, which remains high at £949 down from £1,199.
Unlike the AOL deal though, it is clear that you’re paying for the laptop – double a month in fact - £19.99 for 18 months instead of the usual £10 a month deals we’re now seeing for 3 mobile broadband in mobile phone stores.
If you go for the free option, you get the Compaq C765, again with an Intel Celeron, 80GB hard drive, 1GB and Windows Vista Home Basic.
Or perhaps a mobile phone?
But it’s not only broadband you can subscribe to get a laptop. It’s worth mentioning that there are also increasing numbers of mobile contracts that come with the sweetner of a free laptop. Mobiles.co.uk (again part of Carphone) is offering a HP 6720 laptop as part of numerous contracts with Orange, T-Mobile and O2.
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Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.