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3 Irresistible Tech Bargains

Strike a bargain deal this summer on the iPhone, a big-screen TV and a laptop.

New smart phones arrive in less time than it takes to download an app. So why pay top dollar for the latest handset when last year's model is nearly as good -- and cheaper? Apple sells the iPhone 3GS 16GB for only $99, provided you ink a two-year contract with AT&T (monthly fees start at $55). That's $100 less than you'd pay for the new iPhone 4.

It's debatable whether plasma or LCD TVs have the better picture. But one thing's for certain: Plasma costs less. For big-screen viewing on a budget, you can't beat the Panasonic Viera line. The TC-P50C2 model, for instance, is a 50-inch beauty with a crisp, 720-pixel display that's great for watching high-def TV -- especially ball games, action flicks and other fast-moving scenes. Available for about $650, the Viera TC-P50C2 costs hundreds less than smaller 47-inch LCDs from top-tier vendors.

It's back-to-school time, also known as laptop-buying season for students and their bargain-seeking parents. The Acer Aspire Timeline series of thin-and-light portable PCs delivers the goods at a nice price. Expect to pay under $600 for a Timeline with 3 or 4 gigabytes of memory, a 250GB or larger hard disk, and a processor fast enough for Windows 7 Home Premium. Exact prices vary by configuration and vendor, of course, but the Timeline's value is a lock.