Radio Shack to sell $99 Acer Netbook, but there's a catch

The catch? You'll need to sign up for a two-year mobile broadband contract through AT&T Wireless.

Matt Hickey
With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.
Matt Hickey
Boy Genius Report

According to this leaked ad posted on Boy Genius Report, Radio Shack is poised to offer an Acer 8.9-inch Netbook for only $99 for people who sign up for a two-year mobile broadband contract through AT&T.

This type of subsidized Netbook is hardly surprising--in September, Dell CEO Michael Dell predicted we'd see them--but the fact that Radio Shack appears to be the first major retailer to bring it to the public is.

The tiny notebook features Intel's Atom processor, a 160GB internal hard drive, 1GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, and of course, built-in AT&T 3G that can be accessed anywhere AT&T offers coverage, all in a 2.2-pound package. The ad shows that the computer will be for sale at Radio Shack starting this Sunday.

While we like the rise of Netbooks in general as a way to truly democratize the Web, this deal isn't for everyone. Two years at $60 or more a month is quite a commitment, but for single people who are often on the go this makes more sense than home DSL or even a cable modem. (Though the data rates aren't comparable, the prices are, and the portable factor will outweigh the speed difference for some.)

Look for more deals like this in the near future, especially at 3G carriers' retail presences.