The cheap Netbooks you see advertised at discount stores might not turn out to be so cheap after all. If you see a Netbook advertised at $100 or less, beware--it will end up costing you many times the regular price of $275-$400 USD. As I predicted in my post, "Branded Netbooks," vendors (Phone companies and ISPs) are selling subsidized Netbooks with service subscriptions.

Don't allow yourself to fall into these traps.

Netbooks advertised for $100 are associated with some costly fine print. For example, I saw one in my local Sunday paper advertisement section for $100*. Do you see that asterisk after the price? That asterisk puts the 'risk' in the price.

Reading the asterisked fine print gave me the true price of this Netbook and a little surprise after some investigation.

To purchase the Netbook at the promotional price of $100, you must also sign a 2-year contract with the company for Internet service to the tune of $60+USD per month. I'll do the math for you.
That's $1,440 USD for the service plus the $100 Netbook "purchase" for a grand total of $1,540 USD for a $300-ish Netbook.

Ok, so you need Internet service to go with that Netbook? Buy a Netbook and shop around for service. $60 per month (minimum) is pretty pricey if you ask me for service that you can get for less than half that. If you need random connectivity, go to a place where they offer free WiFi as a draw.
Many restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, hotels offer free WiFi and all Netbooks come WiFi ready. To find these hotspots, go to sites such as WiFiFreeSpot, Free-Hotspot, or JiWire's Global Wi-Fi Finder.

Lessons learned: Always read the fine print for any great "deal" you might find, calculate the amount of money you're going to spend over the next 2 or 3 years while you're waiting for that contract to run out and it's almost always less expensive to find your own service rather than deal with the restrictions of a bundled package. Don't waste your money.

Oh, you want to know about the surprise that I mentioned earlier? It's rumored that if you don't pay your contract to the company for your cheap Netbook, they disable it. That's right. You'll have a very cute paperweight until you cough up the cash.


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