Sony offers a free PS3 or Vita with back-to-school PC

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Shopping for a back-to-school computer? Spend your money with Sony and you could walk away with a free gaming console. On the heels of Microsoft's promotion, the Japanese manufacturer has announced that students and faculty who purchase an eligible VAIO machine will get to choose between a free PlayStation 3 160GB, a PlayStation Vita Wi-Fi or a $200 discount on select PlayStation gear.

Alternatively, if you're not looking for gaming equipment, Sony offers a flat 8% discount on an eligible system, which includes various models of the VAIO S, T and Z series notebooks as well as the L series all-in-one. The cheapest option is the 13.3-inch VIAO T ultrabook, which starts at $746.89 with a 1366x768 display, a 1.7GHz Core i5-3317U, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB HDD and 32GB SSD, and Windows 7.

That can be upgraded to a 1.9GHz Core i7-3517U, 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of flash storage, and up to  6GB or 8GB of RAM. Of note, the VAIO T also ships with a free carrying case until June 16. You can get the PS3 and Vita with a coupon code (FREEPS3 or FREEVITA), but you'll have to call Sony for more options (1-877-647-7699). Alternatively, CAMPUS8 offers a flat 8% discount on your purchase.

Microsoft's promotion is similar, though less restrictive in that you aren't limited to one computer maker or retailer. If you purchase one of the 64 qualifying machines priced at $699 or more from Best Buy, Dell, Fry's, HP, Newegg or Microsoft Stores, you'll get a basic Xbox 360 4GB free of charge. The free Xbox will only be available until September 8, while we haven't seen an end time for Sony's deal.

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