Circuit City's $99 laptop war

Chain takes on Wal-Mart and Staples (after rebates)

Circuit City is celebrating the holiday season with price wars.

The retail chain will try to best Wal-Mart and Staples with a Compaq notebook for $299 after rebates, or $99 with rebates and a 12-month subscription to Vonage, according to Black Friday 2006. The bargain-hunting site posts scans of Sunday advertising inserts before they're delivered with newspapers.

Newspaper ad
Black Friday

Wal-Mart and Staples have come out with $398 and $399 Compaq laptops. The Circuit City notebook is similar, though it comes with a Celeron processor from Intel rather than a chip from Advanced Micro Devices. It also contains a drive that burns both DVDs and CDs, not just CDs like the Wal-Mart laptop. (Wal-Mart's site is no longer advertising the cheap Compaq laptop, so it may already be sold out.)

All three come with 512MB of memory, a 15.4-inch screen and a 60GB hard drive. Circuit City currently sells the Compaq notebook for $499--it says the computer ordinarily lists for $680. To get to $299, Circuit City gives consumers a $280 instant rebate at the store and a coupon for a $100 mail-in rebate ($680 minus $380 comes to $299).

The Vonage subscription is a novel twist. Often, retailers will offer $99 PCs but require that consumers subscribe to 12 months of ISP service, usually from AOL. In this case, the price of the PC is partly subsidized through phone service.

About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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