If you have the pocket change, Best Buy
The leading consumer-electronics chain is offering a Hewlett-Packard
There's a catch, of course. You have to commit to paying SprintNextel
If portable cybersurfing is important to you, paying $1,441 over two years may not sound like a ludicrous trade-off to paying $390 and praying for free Wi-Fi hotspots along the way. However, if you're willing to fork over $60 a month to be perpetually online (well, within the confines of 5 gigs of data usage a month), wouldn't you probably be in the market for something more than a netbook?
Subsidized netbooks aren't new. RadioShack
But Best Buy's deal is unique, in that the retailer is offering customers three wireless carriers to choose from. Unfortunately, going with AT&T or Verizon
You've seen this happen for years in the cell-phone space. When AT&T moves an Apple
Netbooks sold like crazy over the holidays, but they probably went to Wi-Fi-enabled homes where residents were looking for an entry-level portable computing device to take from room to room. Netbooks' cheap prices were as big a factor as their compact designs. So how many people want to pay $60 a month for connectivity on a secondary machine?
More to the point, shouldn't the full-sized laptops -- and especially Apple -- be making the leap to subsidized mobile broadband deals? Netbooks are lightweight and extremely portable, but who even knows whether they'll still be relevant in two years? As a bargain-priced alternative between smartphones and notebooks, netbooks hold a huge appeal today -- but don't go stapling me to a two-year mobile broadband contract. I may have other plans come June of 2011.
What's the deal with netbooks these days?
Apple and Best Buy are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy. SprintNextel and Best Buy are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is still holding out for an Apple netbook. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.