Verizon offers free netbooks with BlackBerry Tour

Verizon Wireless is again offering a second BlackBerry with each one purchased, but this time the deal includes any other device -- of equal or lesser value -- that Verizon sells.

That means new subscribers, or those signing new two-year contracts, can get a free netbook with a BlackBerry Tour smartphone. The Tour costs US$199.99 after Verizon's rebate, and the least-expensive netbook Verizon sells is the HP Mini 1151 NR, also priced at $199.99. Those customers could also get any USB, PC Card or ExpressCard modem the carrier offers.

The offer also covers the Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, a $199.99 battery-powered 3G modem that includes a Wi-Fi access point that can be used with any five Wi-Fi devices. To get any of these devices free with the BlackBerry, the customer would have to sign up for a two-year contract for both devices. Monthly data plans start at $39.99 with a 250MB cap and $59.99 with a 5GB cap.

Research In Motion and Verizon both have been working hard to grab attention and sales from the still-popular Apple iPhone, which in the U.S. is offered only on Verizon rival AT&T's network. A BlackBerry buy-one-get-one offer that Verizon ran earlier this year was widely credited with helping the BlackBerry Curve beat the iPhone in unit sales in the first quarter. The BlackBerry Storm, RIM's first touch-screen product, also debuted to hot sales in that quarter.

With the latest promotion, Verizon wanted to make sure its customers were able to get the second device they needed, instead of limiting them to getting another BlackBerry. Verizon sells all other BlackBerry models for less than the Tour, ranging from the Storm at $99.99 to the BlackBerry 8703e for $29.99, each with two-year contracts.

The Tour, which debuted last month, can work on both the EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) network technology used by Verizon and the GSM/HSPA (Global System for Mobile Communications/High-Speed Packet Access) system used by most carriers outside the U.S. It is available in models with or without a 3.2-megapixel camera, meeting the security requirements of some businesses and government agencies. Both models cost $199.99 at Verizon.