Daily gear deal – Acer Aspire One with Windows XP and 120GB drive for $240

Competition between Netbook makers is fierce – for the past 6 months, prices have been dropping at a very steady pace and have finally brought these machines to the price point where you really should consider picking one up if you are looking for a smaller and lighter laptop.

Today’s deal is for the popular Acer Aspire One. This 1.6GHz machine has 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive, which means it stands out amongst all the other sub-$250 Netbook deals. Most other machines in this price range have limited memory and a cramped SSD drive of just 8GB or less. The machine also comes with Windows XP.

To complete the package, the Aspire One also comes with an integrated webcam, WiFi and a multi-card reader.

The only downside to this particular Aspire One is the screen size – at 8.9 inches it may be a tad small for you. Other than that, it has the power to do most on-the-road tasks, and its 120GB drive means you can bring some music or video content with you for a little in-flight entertainment.

The Aspire One is available in black and white for $240, or for $20 more you can get the white version with a 160GB drive. Shipping is free.

Daily deal – Dell Inspiron Mini 9 for $99 with 2 year AT&T data plan

Well, that was fast. Remember when I posted my predictions in tech for 2009? One of my entries was “subsidized notebooks with combined data plans”.

We are just 11 days into the new year, and Dell has already made me look good by making one of my predictions come true. As of today, you can order a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 for just $99 if you purchase it along with a 2 year AT&T mobile broadband subscription.

Your $99 will get you a very small computer, just over 2lbs, with built in wireless Internet access on the AT&T3G network (where available).

The Inspiron Mini 9 is a 1.6GHz Intel Atom powered Netbook with 512MB of memory and an 8GB SSD drive. The base version offered in this deal does not come with a webcam, and once you configure the machine with more memory, a larger SSD drive and Bluetooth, the final price comes to about $185. Still, a hot deal, as it includes an integrated AT&T 3G modem card tucked away inside the machine.

The easiest way to describe the deal is that you can order the Mini 9 from the Dell website, and as long as you activate the AT&T 3G modem, you are eligible for a $350 mail in rebate.

The AT&T 3G service costs $59.99 a month, and you have to activate it within 4 weeks of receiving the laptop. The mail in rebate period expires on February 12th.

If you’d prefer a similar deal, but with a slighly different computer, check out the Acer Aspire One at your local Radio Shack. The Aspire One has 1GB of memory and a 160GB hard drive. The base price of this machine is $449, but just like with this Dell deal, you can purchase it in store for $99 when you commit to a 2 year AT&T data plan.

This year in tech – what 2009 will bring for travelers

I’ve already looked back at the best gadgets 2008 had to offer, and in this list I’ll take a look at some of the travel technologies I expect to take off in 2009. Come back next year to either laugh in my face, or remark how amazingly clever I am.

Computer/data bundles on sale

Back in November of last year, Radio Shack started selling a bundle including an Acer Netbook computer, an integrated 3G modem and a 2 year AT&T data subscription. This combo would normally retail for about $430, but the inclusion of the 2 year subscription lowers the price to just $99.

This practice is not new, and bundles of hardware and mobile subscriptions have long been the norm in many European countries. What is new, is that these deals have finally made their way to the USA.

I predict more of these promotions in 2009, and for the deals to become much more widespread. Offering one laptop at just one store is hardly going to change the way we subscribe to mobile data services, but it is a great start.


4G wireless broadband data

Many people are just making their first steps with 3G mobile data, but some of the major players in the market are already hard at work on 4G.

4G wireless data promises even faster speeds than what we currently get from the 3G services on Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.

Building these new networks takes an astounding amount of money, but the largest and most ambitious network already has the support (and money) from companies like Intel, Google, Comcast and Sprint.

By the end of 2009, we should see 4G networks available in about 20 major US cities. The speeds offered by a 4G service like Clear (previously called Xohm) run off a technology called Wi-Max and should reach about 4-8Mbit/s, which is the equivalent of most residential DSL or cable connections. Unlimited service will run between $30 and $50 a month, making it a very viable alternative to slower 3G services.


A new iPhone (nano)?

In December of each year, things in the Apple rumor department start to get kind of wacky. That is mainly because January is when the years largest Apple exposition starts (Macworld). The notoriously tight lipped company apparently “leaks” all kinds of amazing stuff, 95% of which is all bogus, fake or downright stupid. One rumor that keeps popping up this year though, is a smaller iPhone.

This “iPhone Nano” has been leaked by several phone case manufacturers, and has all the die-hard Apple fans foaming at the mouth.

Whether we actually see a tiny iPhone remains to be seen, but it sure does sound like a fun little phone.


More Netbook computers

Netbook computers were the big hit in 2008, and 2009 promises to be even bigger for the little machines. We’ll probably see even lighter machines with more power, and lower prices.

As more and more manufacturers hop on the Netbook bandwagon, companies will start putting a lot more effort into innovation, and sooner or later we’ll finally get the perfect computer.

The first fairly basic Netbook computers launched for about $350, but prices have slowly been dropping, and at the moment that same price will get you a very well equipped machine with a 160GB drive and a powerful 6 cell battery.


Better battery technology

Current notebook computers have about 4000 times the processing power of the first portable computer, but just 2 times the battery life. Each year promises to be the biggest year ever in battery developments, but 2009 actually seems like it might come through for us.

Big players like HP have signed up for a new battery design by Boston Power, which promises battery charge times as low as 30 minutes for an 80% charge as well as higher capacities with the same weight as current cells.

What this means to you and I is that sooner or later we really might get a computer that can last an entire long haul flight on a single battery charge and can be recharged during a short stopover.


Paperless boarding documents

I wrote about the future at the airport last week, one of the items in that futuristic lineup is already here, and will probably become more popular in 2009.

Paperless boarding involves having your airline email you a bar code that can then be used to get through security and onto your flight.

Our very own Grant Martin tested it, and says it sort of works, assuming the airport staff know what they are doing.

Daily deal – Acer Aspire One ultra portable computer $289.99

My daily deal for today is for another of those nifty little “Netbook” computers. This time, it’s the Acer Aspire One AOA110-1955.

The pint sized computer features an Intel Atom processor, running at a comfortable 1.6GHz. Also inside the machine is 512MB of memory and an 8GB solid state drive. Connectivity to the Internet is accomplished using a wired connection, or with the built in Wi-Fi interface.

Before you click “I want one”, I want to make sure you understand that this model of the Aspire One does not come with Windows. Instead, you get a special flavor of Linux. The Linux installation contains all the applications the average user might need; including OpenOffice and Mozilla Firefox.

The Acer Aspire One comes complete with a 3-cell battery pack, an AC adapter and a carrying pouch.

This machine normally retails for $329, but for just one day, you’ll be able to buy one from Woot.com for just $289.99 (+$5 shipping).

Remember, Woot.com deals are only available for one day, or until they run out of stock, so don’t wait too long.

Daily deal – Acer Aspire One ultra portable notebook – $399

My daily deal for today is a bit different from my other “hot” deals. The Acer Aspire One is an ultra portable notebook (the new name is “netbook”) and on the inside you’ll find an Intel Atom processor, 1GB of ram, a 120GB hard drive and Windows XP. On the outside, you get a nice 8.9″ display, a fairly spacious keyboard, a webcam and a memory card reader.

The deal itself isn’t extremely hot, but it is being sold at one of the only stores that actually has this new machine in stock, plus it is currently the best value for money of any Netbook on the market (in my personal opinion of course).

The Acer Aspire One (model AO-A150-1570) costs just $399, and while that may be more than some of the regular sized notebooks on the market, it does offer a great value for money compared to other ultra portables. If you are lucky enough to live anywhere near a Microcenter store, you can take a closer look at one in person, and buy one right away, or you can place an online order and the machine will ship in 1-3 business days.

If you plan to do some comparison shopping, be aware that there are two different versions of this computer; one is in stock at several other (online) stores, and costs $379, but it only has 512MB of memory and just 8GB of hard drive storage, plus it runs a special version of Linux instead of Windows XP. At just $20 more, you’ll understand why the version I am posting here is such a “hot” deal – until the next model Netbook comes along of course.