Acer lowers notebook price bar

Last week, HP sold a $499 notebook. Now this week Acer is upping the bar with a $499 notebook with a free printer.

Sold at Circuit City, the notebook comes with a 2800+ Sempron processor from Advanced Micro Devices, 256MB of memory, a 40GB hard drive, integrated wireless and a 15-inch display. The computer ordinarily sells for $699 but comes with a $200 rebate. The Canon printer comes free after a $50 rebate.

Computer makers often test out new price points to see what grabs customers. In the past, only off-brand manufacturers offered notebook at this level. By the season, consumers should see a regular stream of deals on laptops, says Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD Group.

"Back to school looks to be big. It will probably surpass 2003," Baker said.

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