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How to get the best out of technology freebies

You can kit out your PC for free – or even get a free PC. PC Advisor looks at the deals available, from free laptops and phones to free broadband and software, and points out the pitfalls. We also show you what manufacturers and vendors get out of offering freebies.

Marketing folk have long been desperate to stop so-called ‘churn’ – the expensive loss of discerning customers to rival companies, which often offer very similar services at identical or lower prices.

One way in which firms attempt to win over their rivals’ customers – and keep their own happy – is to offer ‘free’ products and services. Over the past two years phone companies have started offering free broadband, ISPs are giving away laptops and online music services and games firms are giving away their products completely gratisonline music services and games firms are giving away their products completely gratis.

However, there is rarely such a thing as a free lunch. So we’ve taken a look at the deals to find out which ones are worth a look – and which ones have a sting in the tail. Follow the links below to enjoy a cost-free existence!


In this month's PC Advisor podcast, we discuss the emergence of 'free laptops', 'free broadband' and 'free software', and check out the best deals available to UK consumers. PLUS: find out why technology vendors are so keen to give their wares away, and
learn how to avoid the pitfalls inherent in such freebie deals.

Shopping around

Comparison sites that provide like-for-like information on current deals can be a good bet if you’re about to sign up for a free phone or laptop – it’s a good idea to read up on the deal you’re getting into. Be aware, though, that some of these sites are vehicles for helping you see the wisdom of one particular offering over another.

You can find some good advice at reputable comparison sites, many of which point out that tying customers into deals is a neat trick. Rob Barnes, head of mobiles at moneysupermarket.com, says: “Mobile operators prefer 18-month contracts because they tie people
in and guarantee revenue.

“Other than the lure of a slightly better phone, there usually isn’t enough added value to justify signing an 18- or 24-month contract. I would warn anyone thinking of signing such a contract to do their research and be absolutely sure they are happy to sign up for that length of time.

“If you feel there is no alternative and are going to enter into an 18-month deal, I would suggest signing up through The Carphone Warehouse and going for the ‘swap it’ deal, which allows a mid-contract upgrade
for a new handset.”

Quick links:

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest internet news, tips and downloads

Go to Laptop advisor for reviews of the latest portable PCs

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