Ok, so the fine print reads:
"With qualifying new 2-year AT&T agreement on rate plans $60/mo. or more. $349.99 unactivated."Still, you get a real computer with connectivity built in. On the downside you're tied to AT&T and I don't see any other connectivity option listed in the specs on the Radio Shack page...an otherwise very similar Acer machine is an Aspire which you can find for as little $280.00 online which has both ethernet and basic wifi built in.
That's for a netbook with an 8.9" screen...Netbooks are all the rage this year but are putting a serious crimp in the profit margins for the companies who are selling them.
In roughly the same areana is the almost-confirmed-rumor that Apple is about to announce a tablet computer —a ten inch touchpad that would be a cross between a Macbook laptop and an iphone/ipod touch device...some rumors place it as a Verizon network offering that would be subsidized by Verizon in the same fashion that the iPhone and this Acer laptop are being subsidized by AT&T.
The point for denizens of Lafayette and digiterati more generally is that the price of Network Attached Devices (NADs) continues to fall and the innovation bonanza spurred by the iPhone is still ongoing. Smart phone and computer convergence continue apace. Here in Lafayette with wireless networks in the offing by both Cox and LUS there'll be a place to try such inexpensive networked devices in a real-world context with "regular folks." And, of course, further close the digital divide.
The downside of all these nifty new devices is that nobody can "eat just one." Everyone with two computers or a computer and a smart phone has already encountered the biggest problem with having more than one shiny, nifty communications device: keeping the #$@@** things synched. The iPhone does a pretty reliable job of this nowadays—as long as you remember to synch. The way around remembering to synch is to use a centralized online storage and backup system that synchs copies from all to all whenever you're connected. None of these, to my knowledge are all that reliable. (.mac is often seen as best of breed; a sorry comment if true I can tell you.) A third, related, way to simplify things is to move most of your life online to one of the cloud server systems like Google Apps where no synching is really required; the docs live online first and any local copy pulled down to work on offline via Gears is always the 'copy.'
Lafayette Commons, running on a Google Apps platform will be an good way to simplify and centralize you online life across multiple devices and platforms when it formally launches. Watch this space. (Yes, a teaser on LPF...will surprises never end. :-) )