Free PC?

Hey everyone,
What’s the deal with the PCs that you can get now that are either free or drastically reduced? I know that you have to sign up for internet service with many of them for up to three years. Does anyone out there have any info on them, any experience with them, or any suggestions on where to go to get them if it is indeed a decent offer?

Thanks and HUGS!

Gasoline: As an accompaniement to cereal it made a refreshing change. Glen Baxter


Some like the Dell offer at Ciruit City (for example) is that you get $400 off but you have to sign up with Prodigy (I think) for 3 years at $21.95/mo (henceforth $22). Well, Prodigy makes

$22 x 36 = $792

off the deal and probably won’t have to upgrade their networks since they are already fairly robust. So they make $392 assuming they pay the full $400 to Dell (they probably don’t). Plus they get word of mouth advertising from you and such.

Then there are other deals where you get a relatively free PC (sometimes completely free). Usually these PCs are very low quality since their prime purpose is connecting to the Internet and really to connect to the Internet you don’t need much of a machine (just a decent modem). They make thier money off advertisements that are displayed on your screen when you are on the Internet. Presumably, the companies paying for the ads are paying more than enough to cover the cost of the cheap computer (you can assemble an equivlent for very little if you can find the parts).

All in all, not too bad a deal since it gets you on the Internet, but forget playing the latest computer games or doing any sort of development (programming) on them. Perfectly fine for word processors and such though.

“Glitch … Anything.” - Bob the Guardian

I’m fairly certain this topic came up before, though I can’t remember on which board. I do recall the general consensus however, was that the free machines were total crap. They usually don’t include the monitor (as if someone who didn’t have a PC would have a spare one laying around) and are the slowest of slow machines with second and third hand no name components that have all kinds of problems. You’re still better off in the long haul buying a computer and getting the service you want rather than getting a shoddy piece of crap PC and paying your ISP through the nose for Internet access.

I forgot to mention.

The drawback to the $400 off thing is that perhaps (avoiding a libel suit here :)) Prodigy isn’t the best Internet service available to you. It almost undoubtedly isn’t the cheapest (most ISPs range from $15.95 to $19.95 for modem service). I don’t think Prodigy offers DSL lines or cable modem service so you can forget about upgrading to a faster service (I could be wrong about this though).

Short Answer: It depends.

Longer Answer: It depends on your situation.

Very Long Answer:

Depending on the plan you may either get a free PC or about $400 off a PC.

I think MSN, Prodigy, AOL, etc. are giving $400 rebates if you promise to sign up for 3 years or so. Usually you can buy the PC at BestBuy or CompUSA or some other such retailer and when you sign up you get the rebate.

Other deals like peoplepc, give you a couple of choices of computer and it is free if you take the base options.

Now, you get a lot off, but what do you gain?

The PeoplePC deal is about $24 per month for 3 years. That works out to be about $864, but since you would likely have had to pay $15 - $20 per month anyway, it only costs you about $150 - $300 more than without and you get a free computer. The other companies, I do not believe charge much if any extra.

However, if you take the PeoplePC deal, you get a 366 Mhz or so CPU, a 3 GB or so hard drive about 32 MB of RAM, and a 15" monitor. You can upgrade to a 17" for $99.

If you go with another offer that is $400 off and you want a PC and you buy a better PC then you may not end up with an underpowered PC.

Now, currently a 366 is not really underpowered, but in 3 years it will be a dog. For example, 3 years ago, I bought a 166 Mhz computer, they were coming out with the 200 Mhz (not even the MMX), but the 166 was about the fastest. Now, most people would scoff at a 166. So keep in mind that what is ok today (and the 366 is ok at best), will not likely be ok tomorrow.

You definitely do not want to play any games on it. Internet and e-mail and word processing should be fine though.

Hope this helps.


You also need to check for obsolete (read clean out the stock) parts, 4 MB SIMMs filling up all your RAM slots, 2 GB HDs, and on board video that uses 8 MB of your 32 MB of RAM. A sparse allotment of slots to upgrade doesn’t help either. It doesn’t take long to fill up your motherboard with a modem, video card, sound card etc. Alot of the on board capabilties are either lacking, or will be obsolete soon and if you don’t have expansion slots to upgrade then you are out of luck and will be buying a new PC soon. Best bet (OK a possibility) is to find a mentor to help you put together a system that may cost $100 more but will be better, upgradeable, and you won’t be commited to an ISP for 3 yrs. Plus it’s a cool thing to put together your system and save some $$. Kind of like like the Heathkit of the 90/20’s. Remember, if it seems too good …

A point in every direction is like no point at all

DO NOT go in for a 3 year contract to an ISP. MSN is from Microsoft - The Evil Empire
Aol has a small, dark heart in it’s weak little chest, wanting nothing more than your money. Gimme your fucking money, Gramps.
Prodigy… is okay. Dialup sucks. Few access lines, okay service.


Don’t buy a PC from a major retailer. Build your own! It’s gonna cost more, but it’ll be fully upgradeable, you can build it to YOUR specs, and not someone else’s, and you’ll LEARN about computers while doing it! Imagine that… Knowing how to do something other than click a button! Seriously. Build your own. Follow instructions, you’ll get the hang of it. Read up. Read magazines. PC Gamer is the best. Right now, I would suggest getting:

Athlon 750
GeForce 256
27 Gig HD
128 meg SDRAM <-- PC 133, or PC200, if you can find it
Soundblaster Live! Platinum
Nice, BIG case
Microsoft Natural Keyboard
Microsoft Intellieye Mouse
Cambridge Dolby 5.1 Speakers
NIC Card (For Roadrunner)
Sony Trinitron Flatscreen (not Flat Panel), 19", OR KDS Radius Flatscreen (it’s the same thing)
10x DVD
Hollywood RealMagic Plus decoder card
HP 9110 CD-RW

All this can be got for about $2500, MUCH cheaper than you’d buy it all for already in a machine.


Good morning Everyone,
Thank you for your input so far. I was actually trying to find out if any of those PCs would be OK for my youngest sister. She just started college and needs to get a PC. Currently she spends all of her student loan, grant, and scholarship money on rent and food. She has a typical freshman job and needs to get something to do some minor word processing and get online. With this in consideration, how would the PCs rank then? BTW, I found a free PC that had a 400 pentium, 12 gig hard drive, 64 RAM, and a R/W CD Rom 32/4X, for the low cost of $22 a month for three years (isp service).


Gasoline: As an accompaniement to cereal it made a refreshing change. Glen Baxter

Yes, this is one that I brought up before, if you search for ‘emachines’ you should be able to see the only topic on them, which also deals with this one.

First, Costco has MSN access for $11.99 a month.

Internet rebates? Yes, you can cancel the first year and pay, get this, $400 charge.

The computers are out of date in a year. IF they last that long. You can’t update emachines [which are pretty slow] unless you mail the whole thing in. The parts are cheap, modems are a miracle if they connect. etc etc.

Note: ADSL modems are the new in thing, whipping out at 250,000 baud + & the computer you get is going to be at 53k for three years. ah haha.