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AOL's $299 PC 367

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the pablum-for-the-masses dept.
cmj writes "Internet.com reports 'Looking to attract households that still aren't online, AOL is offering new customers a $299 PC system if they sign a one-year $23.90 dial-up Internet service contract.' A click through AOL's ecommerce site reveals the the specs as 1.7 GHz Celeron with 256 MB RAM, 40 GB hard drive, 56K modem, 10/100ethernet card, 17" monitor and Lexmark printer. The PC is running Windows XP, and includes 'AOL Office Powered by Sun'. Also of note is the fact that the $299 appears to be financed at around 22%. The math ( (12*23.90)+299 ) seems to suggest that you can get a $699 computer for $585.80 plus any finance charges. Setting aside the question of whether this is a good deal or not, one has to wonder whether AOL is desperate for new customers and resorting to bribery, or just progressing to the next step of branding. With this action AOL controls everything from the OS to the Word Processor to the web sites their customers browse."
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AOL's $299 PC

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  • Deja vu, MSN (Score:5, Informative)

    by Liselle (684663) * <{ten.ellesil} {ta} {todhsals}> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:56PM (#7634866) Journal
    I distinctly remember Microsoft doing something similar [com.com] with their $400 rebate for signing up for three years of MSN. They dropped it after a year or two. AOL's deal seems more financially risky to me, I wonder how they can pull it off.
    • Re:Deja vu, MSN (Score:4, Informative)

      by BroncoInCalifornia (605476) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @10:47PM (#7635546)
      AOL's deal seems more financially risky to me, I wonder how they can pull it off.

      $299 + 12*$23.90 = $585.80

      I do not think they are losing money supplying a low end computer for over $500.

      • Re:Deja vu, MSN (Score:3, Insightful)

        by prockcore (543967)
        $299 + 12*$23.90 = $585.80

        I do not think they are losing money supplying a low end computer for over $500.


        I see, and it costs AOL nothing to provide internet service for a year?
    • by mbauser2 (75424) on Friday December 05, 2003 @04:23AM (#7637047) Homepage
      I used to work in a camera store that sold cell phones, too. (Don't ask me why a camera store would bother will cell phones, because I'm still not sure.) One thing I learned: mobile phones still cost the phone companies more than the 99 dollars they sell them for -- the companies are swallowing the cost of the phone because they hope to make it up with a few years of phone bills.

      It works, too, because... (wait for it)... people don't want to change their phone numbers. (Another reason the cell companies dislike number portability). AOL is assuming the same thing will happen with their service -- customers will decide it's too much work to change it, stick with AOL for years, and repay AOL's investment.

      (Besides, AOL is an evil megacorporation. If they don't make their money back, they'll just find a way to write it off on their taxes.)
  • by Frisky070802 (591229) * on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:58PM (#7634877) Journal
    This doesn't seem new or noteworthy. Such deals have been around for years. for intstance, googling appropriate terms took me to an article [isp-planet.com] from 1999 about this sort of thing.

    Also, the numbers for how much this computer is worth don't factor the right things in. Anyone who'd go for this deal needs some sort of ISP to begin with, and the $23.90/month may be higher than other ISPs, but does give the customer something of value beyond the PC. On the other hand, is that really a $699 computer?

    • by mccabem (44513) on Friday December 05, 2003 @12:49AM (#7636128)
      "...is that really a $699 computer?"
      By the vendors' reckoning on Pricewatch, that PC is worth about $200 [pricewatch.com] retail.

      The 17" monitor goes for $83 [pricewatch.com] retail.

      The printer is probably worth less than $20. [pricewatch.com]


      So, if getting a [$200+$83+$20=] $303 PC for about $600 sounds like a good deal, then AOL is your savior! (!!)

      Sadly, AOL is going after those least-informed of consumers with this deal, so they'll probably find a fair number of takers.

      For those who don't consider AOL worthless, let's consider the cost of ISP service on top. A quick query here [findanisp.com] tells me that it's easy to get dial up for $8/month or less.

      So....[$303+($8*12mths)=] $399 worth of "internet experience" for $699.
  • wha? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wankledot (712148) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:58PM (#7634880)
    "controling"?

    How are they controling you? Do they prohibit you from visiting other sites or installing another OS/Apps? Just because they install some default image, that doesn't mean they're controling what you do with the system.
    • Re:wha? (Score:3, Funny)

      by TwistedGreen (80055)
      Yeah, I noticed that as well. It's yet another obvious case of the control that is exerted on Slashdot by its tinfoil hat manufacturer sponsors.
  • by Chordonblue (585047) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:58PM (#7634883) Journal
    ...maybe they could get the price down to $199, hmmm?

    Don't flip out on me, it was just a thought... ;)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:02PM (#7634919)
      AOL is a big company, why don't they just make thier own distro of Linux and slap in this computer???
    • So wait (Score:5, Funny)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:10PM (#7634986)
      You are telling me that you want people who are, almost by definition, too stupid to get a real Internet connection to have a LINUX PC? Damn, just invite the crackers to go nuts directly why don't ya? :)

      Seriously though, these are the kind fo people who would whine about Lindows since it's different. Doesn't matter how much the same it is, they'd whine and not use it.

      I mean an AOL user here at work got her computer upgraded from 98 to 2k (new computer). From a user standpoint there is almost no difference. She was even used to loggin in since network shares required it. None the less she found about a million things to whine abou. One was that when you open explorer in 98 it goes to the C drive, in 2k it goes to your home directory. She bitched and moaned that this was confusing/difficult/took time/etc till we found a fix.

      No man, you do NOT want these people on Linux, espically not one that is logged in as root by default.
      • Re:So wait (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chordonblue (585047) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:14PM (#7635022) Journal
        I guess what I'm talking about are OPTIONS. No, Lindows won't be for everyone either. OTOH, maybe someone would like to have a computer cost $199 instead of $299 and be willing to learn.

        And what's the big dealio about Lindows defaulting root for the primary user? So what? So does XP! This can now be changed in Lindows 4.0 just as easily as creating a user in XP. Problem solved.

        • Re:So wait (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DA-MAN (17442)
          > I guess what I'm talking about are OPTIONS. No, Lindows won't be for everyone either. OTOH, maybe someone would like to have a computer cost $199 instead of $299 and be willing to learn.

          It wouldn't be that cheap even without XP. Buying XP as an OEM entitles you to huge discounts, I am positive AOL isn't paying retail for XP. The Walmart PC's aren't even that cheap after Monitor/Printer and they have less ram and cpu speed.

          > And what's the big dealio about Lindows defaulting root for the primary u
        • Re:So wait (Score:3, Interesting)

          by danheskett (178529)
          OTOH, maybe someone would like to have a computer cost $199 instead of $299 and be willing to learn.

          Um... I have negioted deals for XP in bulk before, and, it is not $100 more expensive than Lindows. Windows XP home in bulk does not cost $199 retail or $99 retail that you see in stores. If you buy 10,000 copies you can get it for about $42. I am sure Lindows is cheaper, but not enough to lower the price $100 per unit...
      • Re:So wait (Score:5, Funny)

        by kalidasa (577403) * on Thursday December 04, 2003 @10:16PM (#7635371) Journal

        I mean an AOL user here at work got her computer upgraded from 98 to 2k (new computer). From a user standpoint there is almost no difference. She was even used to loggin in since network shares required it. None the less she found about a million things to whine abou. One was that when you open explorer in 98 it goes to the C drive, in 2k it goes to your home directory. She bitched and moaned that this was confusing/difficult/took time/etc till we found a fix.

        Hemlock, I hope.

        I've had to migrate too many users who treated "c:\" as their home directory. Someone started bitching to me about not going directly to c:\ when Explorer opened, I'd be deeply tempted to go BOFH and replace her computer in the middle of the night with an 80286 running DR. DOS and Windows 2.

        • Re:So wait (Score:3, Funny)

          by ncc74656 (45571)

          I've had to migrate too many users who treated "c:\" as their home directory. Someone started bitching to me about not going directly to c:\ when Explorer opened, I'd be deeply tempted to go BOFH and replace her computer in the middle of the night with an 80286 running DR. DOS and Windows 2.

          I think swapping it out for an Etch-a-Sketch [purdue.edu] would be better. You could even pass it off as one of "those new-fangled Tablet PCs."

    • AOL doesn't work on Linux (not officially; there are a few projects I've seen to try to circumvent this--no idea if they work well or not). And as others pointed out, they are trying to appeal to the non-savvy. Just because the default user is root doesn't make Lindows easy to use.
  • Excellent (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:59PM (#7634889)
    I think this is a fabulous idea and hope many people take advantage of their generous offer.



    Did I mention that I own AOL stock? Yeah, I really should've cashed out years ago.
  • Considering... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ajiva (156759) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:59PM (#7634892)
    Considering you can get a much better machine for much cheaper. Check out:

    http://gotapex.com

    You'll find BETTER Dell machines for ~$400 with 6 months of AOL included!
    • Re:Considering... (Score:3, Informative)

      by sterno (16320)
      Yes, but for ~$400 you are only getting the computer itself. Here you are paying $299 for a computer and monitor.

      It's not an amazing deal, and not really that different from some other things, but it'll be interesting to see what an AOL controlled PC does. I also wonder if the support costs associated with the computers will drive the ultimate cost of this beyond what AOL can handle.
    • by flynt (248848) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:18PM (#7635043)
      http://gotapex.com

      Uhm, I don't think so. Wait, "got apex", whew.
      • by Powercntrl (458442) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:40PM (#7635181)
        I read that as goatsecx too... Sure sign of being on Slashdot too long.

        Wonder how many moderators will mod the grandparent post down because they don't read carefully and think goatse.cx has started selling computers. Could you imagine, " - Microsoft Internet Explorer provided by goatse.cx"? The animated page access icon?

        Eww.
  • Jelousy (Score:3, Funny)

    by bpb213 (561569) <bpbyrneNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:01PM (#7634907)
    "With this action AOL controls everything from the OS to the Word Processor to the web sites their customers browse."

    Uh Oh, is that Steve Jobs I'm seeing in the distance? Looks like he's fuming...
    Next Month: the iNet internet service, so Steve too can also claim to control everything from the hardware to the software to the internet.

    (and yes, I own an apple, and hell no, I would never buy iNet ;) )
    • Apple already failed once with an ISP (eWorld, I think).
      • Re:Jelousy (Score:2, Informative)

        by NickV (30252)
        eWorld became a little service called America Online when it merged with the c64 service, Q-Link... See this link for some more info [slashdot.org] (I can't find any sites online with info.)

        So yea, I wouldn't call eWorld a failure...
        • Re:Jelousy (Score:4, Informative)

          by ncc74656 (45571) <scott@alfter.us> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:16PM (#7635036) Homepage Journal
          eWorld became a little service called America Online when it merged with the c64 service, Q-Link...

          AOHell goes back much further than eWorld. I think you meant to refer to something called "AppleLink Personal Edition," which was available for both Apple IIs and Macs (if that gives you more of an idea how far back it goes).

        • Re:Jelousy (Score:3, Interesting)

          No, that's not quite what happened. AppleLink was the service that eventually became AOL. E-World was a separate, later attempt at an Apple-branded online service; not least because AOL was already well-established by the time e-World was created, it sank like a rock. This was in the mid-Nineties. Not sure of the exact timeframe, but I know that when I bought my first Mac ca. 1995, it came with e-World preinstalled. I never used it, but it had a neat icon. ;)

          Note that I said "online service," not ISP.
      • Re:Jelousy (Score:5, Funny)

        by jpu8086 (682572) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:08PM (#7634975) Homepage
        Obviously Apple hadn't mastered the naming schemes back in 1993. Had it been named iWorld, it would most likely have been a bashingly successful venture.

        More info: eWorld [vanvr.com]
  • i'd actually recommend this to my friends.
    with the printer and monitor, it's a good deal.
    just... have to reinstall windows for the dummies, or install linux for the extremely computer literate.
    • by bpb213 (561569)
      Is it that great a deal when you are locked into a $288 service contract for dialup?
    • by gl4ss (559668)
      is it? i doubt the lexmark refills being free.

      though with the aol subscription commitment for a year it's more of a partial payment deal, or hand fee+rent.

      i should be sleeping.. maybe somebody will see if they can find the same specced computer for cheaper than what this deal is..
    • by Chordonblue (585047) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:30PM (#7635128) Journal
      You know, as much as it pains me to say this... Uh...

      I've actually started to recommend AOL to people! :O OMFG - I SAID IT!

      There it is. I'm sorry. But there is some reasoning here, if you all won't mod me down as a troll first.

      The main reason has to do with AOL 9's control of spyware, parental rules for Internet usage, and yes, ease of use. For some users out there this is exactly what they need. AOL's numbers aren't near as high as they used to be due to user savvy, but they do still serve a purpose. Think of all your friends/relative's computers you've had to run AdAware or Spybot on recently and you have to agree...

      Even on broadband! :O Oh Shit! I just said that too!!!

      Bad Dobby! Bad BAD BAD!!! :)

    • by mekkab (133181)
      actually, no. Someone else posted it first, but Got Apex [gotapex.com] has some FRESH deals...
  • Well, this might be exploitable by the tech-savvy... especially since I believe AOL has negotiated a branded version of StarOffice to round it out. Keep what you want, put up with the ISP solution for a while. Worth it for a year for many families, I suppose. Whether the retention rate will be sufficient, given AOL's service record (presumably software [i]isn't[/i] going to time out or require frequent net connectivity, though I wouldn't put it past them)... only time will tell.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The math ( (12*23.90)+299 ) seems to suggest that you can get a $699 computer for $585.80 plus any finance charges.

    More like More like $399 [pcclub.com]

    $699 will buy a P4 3.0GHz that's better in most other respects too [pcclub.com]

    What year is whoever submitted that in?

    Jason
    ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]
  • Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:08PM (#7634969)
    They give you the fine print [aolcheckout.com] in gif form just to make sure it's difficult for you to read the text. The resolution isn't really fine enough for the text to be legible at any magnification, but it appears that the finance rate is 23.9% or 25.9%
  • by Numeric (22250) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:09PM (#7634980) Homepage Journal
    You really need to review this. I saw the story this AM (EST) and throughly reviewed the deal because I'd like to upgrade my mother's computer which is a currently a pc200mhz with 64mb of memory as a Xmas present.

    Here's the fine print (beware the fine print is a image file):
    http://www.aolcheckout.com/aol-pc/aol01b-l egal1.as p?vcid=a2&srccode=subp2b447688

    "$299 Financed plus a one-year committment to AOL for 23.90"...did you read financed?

    my take on the deal...

    according to the fine print, you are issued a Tiger Gold Card with approve credit from Wells Fargo, furthermore, the regular APR is 21.9% (i think, the fine print is very small).

    so now you have a credit card from a company with a really high interest rate! "Boom!" as Madden 2004 would say. That is the hook for AOL, they can make some money by establishing new customers for a credit card company.

    Its seems like a nice deal on the front end.
  • Strategy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pi eater (714532)
    Seems to me like AOL is trying to pursue a strategy (at least in regards to this latest offering) similar to Nintendo's...

    Charge cheap for something the user needs to use the company's products, then hope that the customer stays on board and buys more products from the company.

    Will this work? I doubt it.. IMO they will lose tons of cash.. But hey, the real beneficiaries of this are the customers, so I'm all for it.

    webmaster shirts and more [wabshirts.com]
    • Re:Strategy (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Naffer (720686)
      I'm not so sure though... At $99, Nintendo is still making a profit (small... probably) off their cube and you are in no way obligated to purchase any additional games. AOL's deal requires that the computer be financed over a 1 year period. $24 a month for dialup internet can be a pretty big turnoff.
  • AOL is $$$ hungry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by t0qer (230538) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:12PM (#7635000) Homepage Journal
    Not really major super proof of their money hungryness, but Winamp5, which is created by nullsoft, who is owned by AOL time warner is going to have a "pro" version that will cost money.

    Being that I sort of know the nullsoft crew, I know they probably didn't like having to do this.

    I guess AOL had to make money on those cool CD tins they were shipping out last year.
  • by Vandil X (636030) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:14PM (#7635020)
    Hopefully the low price tag will convince people still using WebTV to actually purchase a personal computer.

    I can see this as being killer for grandparents and others living on fixed incomes.

    The system specs are decent, considering the target audience is probably not going to be encoding digital video, compiling code, or running photoshop.

    The office suite is a nice touch. It sucks to get emailed a MS Office document and not being able to open them in anything but WordPad. I get so many tech support calls related to people not being able to open MS Office attachments. If the AOL office suite includes Excel and PowerPoint clones, all the better.
  • by WankersRevenge (452399) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:14PM (#7635021)
    With this action AOL controls everything from the OS to the Word Processor to the web sites their customers browse.

    When did my girlfriend start working at AOL?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Wait, so a guy named WankersRevenge is posting on Slashdot about having a girlfriend? How's that work?

      obvious...

  • I might get one of these for my Mom.

    I don't feel like piecing a machine together for her, and she needs internet service anyhow... and she needs something EASY to use, not a crap service provider.

    Seems like a good deal. It's either this or a cheap PC and something like MSN or AOL. This seems like the easiest (if not the cheapest) way to go.
  • Controls everything? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Octagon Most (522688) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:17PM (#7635039)
    "AOL controls everything from the OS to the Word Processor to the web sites their customers browse."??

    Give me a break. AOL doesn't care what you do with the PC. Go ahead, wipe it clean and install your favorite alternative OS. All that matters is that you sign a one-year commitment to AOL's dial-up service at $23.90 per month. That $286.80 commitment subsidizes the cost of the computer. AOL has stated (maybe it's even in a linked article) that a common reason given for cancellations is loss of access to a computer. In a few tests they have offered such users a discounted PC rather than let them become former users. As a result of what they have learned they believe that offering a really cheap computer will attract/retain members. They need to do something as they have lost a couple million recently.

    Sounds like a business decision to me. But, hey, maybe it's all just part of a vast conspiracy by a big corporation to control everything we do.
    • by rgmoore (133276) *

      As a result of what they have learned they believe that offering a really cheap computer will attract/retain members.

      I think that this is really the big point. ISPs have surprisingly good customer loyalty when you consider how little difference there is between one dialup service and another. I guess that a big part of it is just the hassle of switching email addresses. In any case, AOL knows that many of those people who sign up for one year of service will continue to get service from AOL for the for

  • haha (Score:2, Informative)

    by VAXGeek (3443)
    anyone remember the iOpener?

    totally hacked [geocities.com]
    • It origially sold without a service agreement and you could pay for it with CASH, then walk out the door with it. The Xbox is like this, and so are those one-time-use digital cameras Ritz sells. If you're willing to pay full price for a Sprint cell phone, you can also walk out the store without any contract and use it as a doorstop or an overpriced electronic phonebook.

      This computer, however, is being sold on the condition that you are entering into a contractual agreement to continue service for one yea
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aol.LISPcom minus language> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:19PM (#7635049) Journal
    You cannot consider the entire cost of AOL access to be "interest" in this interesting calculation. You must consider that you are receiving something of value in addition to just the computer. THe way to calculate the effective financing rate is to take the difference between the cost of AOL and the cost of another equivalent access service, say, Earthlink, which I believe is $15/mo or so...

    So, (12*(23.90-15))+299 = $405.80...

    Ok, so let's see what I can buy that system for.

    I just purchased two small machines, Athlon 1900+, 256MB Ram, 40GB Hard disks, with integrated I/O and everything for $280 each delivered. A 17" monitor can be had for about $100 and a cheap-ass Lexmark printer is about $50. What's that come out to? $430? and it's a MUCH MUCH MUCH faster machine...

    So the bottom line is that this deal is marginal at best, and with AOL's buying power, it's probably very profitable in the end. They can probably put that machine together for about $200-250.
    • They can probably put that machine together for about $200-250.


      $200-$250, for which they charge $299. OK, i'm alright with that. Keep in mind, they're buying in bulk and they still have to put the thing together, or pay someone else to. In your own figures you're assuming your time is worth nothing.

      Also, you can't go with $200-250 vs. actual income of $408, because then profit is (408-250-(cost of 1 year internet access)). Internet access is not free, not even to AOL. They pay for bandwidth, they
  • You didn't need the extra set of parentheses - the math already assumes that.

    Boy, I'm a geek...
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:23PM (#7635078)
    The next thing you know, instead of receiving those annoying coasters in the mail all the time, you'll start receiving free computers in the mail all the time. They'll work for 1045 hours for free, after which you either pay, or they blow up.

    AOL's "1. Mail computers 2. ??? 3. Profit!!!" plan is as follows:

    Savvy computer users will figure out that erasing the hard drive and installing their own OS removes the 1045 hour time limit, and removing the TNT from inside the computer case completely eliminates the possibility of the computer blowing up.

    Then, in an RIAA-like effort, AOL will sue hundreds of thousands of individuals for illegally using their computers, which constitute valuable intellectual property. They will ignore the fact that by law, when they send something in the mail, it becomes the property of the recipient. It will take a long time for this to get to the courts, in order for the courts to throw it out, and in the meantime, many frightened teenagers will settle with AOL for amounts greatly exceeding the market value of the computers.

    Clean profits for AOL.

  • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:26PM (#7635097)
    Insurance companies should do this!

    You could sign up for a 2 year policy with Geico, and get a '89 Mercury station wagon, with external wood paneling, for only $300 bucks!
  • funny... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Funny, a few years ago I was thinking
    "compuserve and the like are offering these great deals because no one will be on dialup anymore"
    Now it seems that dialup is going to be aruond for a long time.
  • by peezer (682955)
    Geez, I've been trying to convince my parents to 1) drop AOL dial-up for cheaper cable broadband 2) upgrade their old computer. But since they seem to think that AOL is the ONLY way to surf the web and get email, they're gonna see this and think it's such a friggin' good deal...

    This offer is just capitalizing on the prevalence of poor and ill-informed individuals. If AOL is successful, we'll have a rough estimate as to how many of these people there are. Don't get me wrong, more power to AOL--it's thei

  • Misleading math... (Score:5, Informative)

    by laird (2705) <lairdp.gmail@com> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:27PM (#7635108) Journal
    "The math ( (12*23.90)+299 ) seems to suggest that you can get a $699 computer for $585.80 plus any finance charges"

    This math is only correct if you assume that there's no value in having AOL dial access. If you think that AOL access is worth the $23.90 a month that millions of people are already paying for it, you're getting a $699 computer for $585.80 plus any finance charges, plus agreeing to stay on AOL for a year.

    This doesn't sound any more sleazy than cell phone companies giving you a heavily discounted cell phone in return for a commitment for longer service. If you don't want to make the commitment, don't sign the contract, and don't take the up front discount.

    To me, this looks like a decent way for people who aren't online to get online very cheaply and learn whether they want to spend more for broadband, etc., later.
  • by pbug (728232)
    AOL needs to keep their name in the game this why they are doing this. Also this is the best time to do this. With the holiday season they will really rack up.
  • But... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kirk Troll (729217) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:28PM (#7635114) Journal
    You could build your own $500 computer that would be most likely faster, and not contain all that shitty pre-installed AOL crapware that will slow you down further. And, you wouldn't be signed up for AOL service. (And who the hell wants that.)

    Or, for the Maccies, you can get an eMac for $750 (Student Discount) which has a CD Burner, 40gb hard drive, and 1ghz processor. (Also doesn't contain gobs of pre-loaded poo.)
    • Not You! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angram (517383)
      " You could build your own $500 computer that would be most likely faster..."

      Don't be so naive. You are NOT the target consumer for this product - this is aimed at people who aren't tech-savvy. Anyone who can put together a computer will always be able to do a cheaper and better job on their own. People who cannot [read: most people] must buy a premade box, and this isn't really that terrible a deal for them. While AOL service isn't the right choice for most /. readers, it is appropriate for many other peo
  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:29PM (#7635127) Homepage Journal
    Systemax pc's are pretty good, been around awhile, basic solid machines. If you already use AOL, thats a nice system with monitor for 299. Wonder how much the ink cartridges are... The mobo seems to be very cheap, would be nice for more specs.

    Doing a quick pricewatch [pricewatch.com] search shows the pc is an average deal, and system max uses quality oem hardware, your choice.

    But I'd rather go over to Outpost.com (frys) and get something like amd200+mb [outpost.com] for 100 bux, get a nice case [outpost.com] for 40 bux, some memory, hd and gfx card for about 350 for that price. Pick up a used 17 inch monitor for 20 bux at RePC [repc.com].

    There are good deals, but you have to look. I found used dual P2's for 250 bux with scsi drives. Awesome linux/bsd servers.

  • by KaeloDest (220375)
    It is not surprising at all. When I did Apple T-Supp I would field about 10 maybe fifteen calls a week from AOL users who were using AOL as the only App on a G4 or whatnot. They couldn't open an attachment, couldn't print, couldn't unstuff a file that AOL stuffs couldn't find AOL's prefs in the toolbar. And when they wanted to write a letter would e-mail them selves...
    Back on point Let AOL build the whole car they will have to support it and their T-S is so good they all deserve a long vacation in In
  • by valmont (3573) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:44PM (#7635199) Homepage Journal

    You can get dial-up Internet access with no AOL bullshit and a cool PC starting at only $20/month from PeoplePC [peoplepc.com] while paying NOTHING down.

    You can buy a PC for $200 at wal-mart. [com.com]

    ... and that's just a few of many MANY options out there. Now why the fuck would you shell out $300 for an OK computer on-top of having to pay $24/month for internet service that'll suck phat donkey ass?

    go AOL. tsk.

  • by OpenSourceOfAllEvil (716426) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:49PM (#7635230)
    It's not just a good idea. It's frighteningly good if they can pull it off. Have you ever heard this response? I have.
    "What OS do you have, Mac or Windows?"
    "I think it's AOL."

    Imagine hearing it a lot more.
  • Do not fear AOL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rcastro0 (241450) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @10:14PM (#7635357) Homepage
    With this action AOL controls everything from the OS to the Word Processor to the web sites their customers browse."
    That is funny. Down here in Brazil AOL is advertising on TV "New AOL: Now With No Installation CD Required". They had taken a serious beating trying to push forward their proprietary browser [yahoo.com] and now they have thrown the towel, and decided to become a more vanilla ISP, working with any regular browser. In case you are wondering: yes, that is desperate. They are not even a top three ISP in Brazil, after (how many? 3, 4?) years of throwing tons of cash in advertising and promotions.

    It comes to prove IMHO that AOL's current positioning in the US market is a "path dependent" phenomenon, coming to be by a succession of (unlikely) historic events, and by no means natural. I do not fear AOL controling or dominating anything. It seems to me the only thing they are trying to do is to control their downhill slide.

    One last thing. I thought you would be interested to know that AOL Brasil has a Linux download area [aol.com.br], and that they are recommending Netscape 7.0 as a browser [aol.com.br]. I'm not sure, but I believe this has no parallel in AOL other markets.
  • by MadAnthony02 (626886) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @10:36PM (#7635497) Homepage
    I visited the website and noticed it looked oddly familiar. Did a whois on it, and it showed up as being registered to online computer merchant tigerdirect.com . It's interesting that TigerDirect isn't mentioned anywhere on the page, nor do they mention it on their main page.

    Seems like it's almost more that Tigerdirect wants to sell more machines than AOL trying to get more users.

    299pcdeal.com

    Domain name: 299pcdeal.com

    Registrant Contact:
    tigerdirect.com
    Domain Admin (lonny.paul@tigerdirect.com)
    -
    Fax: none
    7795 W Flagler Street
    Miami, FL 33144
    USA

    Administrative Contact:
    tigerdirect.com
    Domain Admin (lonny.paul@tigerdirect.com)
    -
    Fax: none
    7795 W Flagler Street
    Miami, FL 33144
    USA

    Technical Contact:
    tigerdirect.com
    Domain Admin (lonny.paul@tigerdirect.com)
    -
    Fax: none
    7795 W Flagler Street
    Miami, FL 33144
    USA

    Billing Contact:
    tigerdirect.com
    Domain Admin (lonny.paul@tigerdirect.com)
    -
    Fax: none
    7795 W Flagler Street
    Miami, FL 33144
    USA

    Status: active

    Name Servers:
    ns1.domain19.net
    ns2.domain19.net

    Creation date: 11 Sep 2003 20:56:47
    Expiration date: 11 Sep 2004 20:56:47

  • by Cheesewhiz (61745) <ianp.mac@com> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @11:29PM (#7635751) Homepage
    "With this action AOL controls everything from the OS to the Word Processor to the web sites their customers browse."

    Thank GOD for Microsoft...defender of our freedom to choose! Uhhm...wait...

  • cost? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Friday December 05, 2003 @01:19AM (#7636257) Homepage
    "Setting aside the question of whether this is a good deal or not, one has to wonder whether AOL is desperate for new customers and resorting to bribery, or just progressing to the next step of branding."

    Actually, now I'm starting to wonder how cheap an internet connection IS for AOL. If there are plenty of ISPs out there selling service for $9.99 a month, it makes you wonder what AOL's profit margin is on that.

  • by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Friday December 05, 2003 @01:23AM (#7636277)
    Ok, first of all I know many small firms that use AOL (although it is usually AOL Broadband), second of all AOL does a lot of good for the net. AOL scans every email for viruses and doesn't let any through that has one, but rather they notify the sender, they also have great spam filters. Its very user friendly, and their DSL uses PPPoE so its easy to connect to through a router and then the client machines can jsut pop up AOL and connect throguh the LAN connection which is free (yes it is, i've done it on computers, and yes more then one person from the same acocunt can be using aol at the same time). It helps stop the spread of email worms, does excellent spam filtering, and gives the user every means of modern communication that he/she may need, at the tips of their fingers. Yes its not the most slashdotty type service where people use slackware simply becuase its hard to set up (not trying to start a war here, but thats what it sometimes seems like, where as debian, or gentoo in my opinion are better and easier to set up) AOL is no worse then MSN, except that AOL tries to do some good on the net and are very innovative. BTW, all kinds of music and media are available on AOL too at no cost. It realy is pretty nice and impressive, most of my family uses it. I dont use it, but most users love it. Oh yea AOL also are the nice guys that opened up the TOC protocol after it was the most popular protocol, unlike MSN who forced their protocol on users to make it one of the most popular then locked out everyone else. AOL also supports open source as is seen by the AOL Server [sourceforge.net] and the fact that all(or most) of their servers run Linux. And if you IM ZolaOnAOL (that is AOL's chat bot, it was made by AOL and it isnt jsut some hackers bot) and ask her, "What is the best operating system in the world?" , She'll promptly answer that Linux is. Why are you guys so against a corporation that supports the Open Source movement (true they dont have a linux client, but thats because of the lack of market, it wouldnt really help anything if they did, through the other things that they are doing though, it is helping us) They hate MSN jsut as much as anyone else. We need to support corporations that support us and open protocols/software. Everyone needs to open their eyes. Just my 2 cents.
  • by SethJohnson (112166) on Friday December 05, 2003 @02:30AM (#7636642) Homepage Journal


    While evaluating this business model, please consider that AOL might be making a fair piece of change from adware, bookmarks, desktop icons, etc. that it preloads on these computers. I think it's cool they're spreading StarOffice. Way to go, AOL.
  • by Scratch-O-Matic (245992) on Friday December 05, 2003 @09:29AM (#7637861)
    Great. Until now, when a client told me that their "aol wasn't working", I understood that to mean that they were having trouble with their internet connection. Now, it might mean trouble with their hard drive, cd, monitor, office suite, keyboard, ...
  • New Dells (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Custard (587661) on Friday December 05, 2003 @11:00AM (#7638489) Homepage Journal
    New Dells (even lowest models) come with 6 months of aol or earthlink dial-up, so this 12 months thing is really not worth it. I'm sure other companies have similar arrangements.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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