I have written before about "netbook" computers. You can see my earlier article at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2008/12/is-a-400-netboo.html. These are tiny laptop computers, typically weighing 2 1/2 pounds or less. Capabilities vary, but most of them are capable of running modern genealogy programs on Windows XP or Linux. I even modified one of these tiny computers to run the Macintosh OS X operating system. (See http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2009/03/-best-of-both-worlds-windows-and-macintosh-on-one-tiny-laptop.html.) Now AT&T is selling full-featured netbook computers in the Atlanta and Philadelphia areas for $50.
There is a significant drawback to the offer however: you only get that price if you also sign up for AT&T's wireless data plan. Of course, if you want a tiny laptop computer and plan to use it for checking e-mail and surfing the web while traveling, you probably planned to sign up for wireless data anyway. If so, $50 for a tiny laptop computer is a great deal. If you don't need wireless data, this offer probably won't interest you.
AT&T is offering a "limited trial" offer for a $49.99 netbook sold through retail stores in two metropolitan areas. All that's required is signing a two-year contract for wireless and wired Internet access -- and that you live in the Atlanta and Philadelphia areas, because the offering isn't available yet anywhere else. There is no indication whether or not AT&T ever plans to make the same offer in other areas.
According to AT&T, which made the announcement at an industry conference in Las Vegas, the mini laptops available are the Acer Aspire One, Dell Inspiron Mini 9, Dell Inspiron Mini 12 and LG Xenia.
Prices for the netbooks start at $49.99 and go up to $249.99 with a purchase of AT&T's Internet at Home and On the Go plan, which starts at $59.99 per month and includes AT&T DataConnect and Wi-FI. If you don't buy the AT&T services, the netbooks start at $449.99 and go as high as $599.99.
A third option, DataConnect only, gets you netbooks starting at $99.99 and going up to $349.99. There are two versions of the DataConnect plan, one at $40 a month for 200 MB and one at $60 a month for 5 GB.
The netbooks come pre-installed with AT&T Communication Manager, the company said, and will prompt users to tell them when AT&T's 20,000-plus Wi-Fi hot spots are available, as well as store information about previously accessed Wi-Fi networks.
AT&T also is offering 3G-enabled Lenovo X200s for the subsidized price of $749.99 with the plan (or $849.99 with a lesser plan).
Details do not seem to be available online. At least, I could not find the information on AT&T's web site. I cannot find out if the offers are available today or if they are coming "real soon now." I'd suggest that you check in-person at an AT&T store in the Atlanta or Philadelphia areas.