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Set these devices free! (photos)

Rumors abound that Amazon might make Kindles available to Prime members. Here are some other things we think should be gratis.

Eric Mack
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Eric Mack
kindle-3_vertical.jpg
1 of 7 Amazon

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

Free by the holidays? Rumors suggest the Amazon e-reader will be, but the company isn't saying. Still, since few words in the English language have a bigger fan base than "free," it seemed only natural to compile this list of other devices that could or should be complimentary some day in the near future.

ipods.jpg
2 of 7 Flickr user roland

iPod Nanos

iPods

If there's any device with a trajectory toward free as steep as the Kindle, it's the iPod Nano. Apple should use its stranglehold on the tablet market to reinforce the prominence of iTunes. How about a free Nano with each iPad 2 purchase?

Livio.jpg
3 of 7 Video screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

Internet radios

Internet radios

You just can't expect me to get excited enough about HD or XM to buy a new rig, install it, and pay the monthly subscription. But give me a device that's compatible with all of the above, and maybe Pandora or Rdio available on a menu of subscriptions a la cable TV, and I'm in. And while you're at it, you might as well just make it an app.

zune.jpg
4 of 7 Flickr user cote

Zune

Microsoft Zune

Even going free from now on won't save the Zune. For those in the know, it was one of the more well-crafted digital media devices ever to come to the show a minute late and a dollar short--kinda like whoever got stuck playing the Harlem Globetrotters this time around. The fundamentals are solid, but the pizzazz just isn't there, and the game seems fixed anyway.

So now Microsoft's plan is to discontinue the hardware and fold the Zune's software into the Windows Phone platform. This defeat could have been avoided if Microsoft had adopted an aggressive but closed free model from the start, going after Apple and converting the world from iTunes to Windows Media Player.

While we're in fantasyland, why not just ship out all those last few Zunes at random, free of charge?

Sprint.jpg
5 of 7 Flickr user eyeliam

Anything Sprint

Anything on the Sprint network

If AT&T's bid to acquire T-Mobile goes through, the "Now Network" could feel increasingly like a relic of a yesteryear filled with cute, smaller providers. But if it gave out its best smartphones for free, I'd gladly play along and pretend its 4G is for real.

GoogleTV.jpg
6 of 7 Flickr user sam_churchill

Google TV/Apple TV

Google TV/Apple TV

Let's be real. Until I can easily explain to my mother what it is and why she needs it, you're going to have to give it away.

rocket.jpg
7 of 7 Flickr user jurvetson

Space rocket rides

Rides on Jeff Bezos' space rocket

Someone has to ride along as Jeff goes in search of new products, markets, and customers willing to sign up for free two-day intergalactic shipping through Amazon Prime. Why can't it be me?

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