We’ve been covering One Laptop Per Child’s “Buy One Get One” deal because it’s a cheap way to get a very unique, kid-friendly laptop, and because at the end of the year a lot of people are looking for places to burn off some extra tax-deductible donations. But now that OLPC is rolling in one year of free T-Mobile access, the deal just turned into a true bargain—if you meet a couple of conditions.
- 1. You plan on keeping or starting a T-Mobile HotSpot plan for 2008
- 2. You were going to donate at least $199 to a charity anyway.
That’s really it—if you meet those two conditions, then the laptop is gravy, because the real deal is with T-Mobile. You can give your XO laptop away, gift it to a kid in your family, try to get Doom to play on it, whatever. It doesn’t matter.
Here’s how we figure it: that $400 fee is really a combination of two expenses: a tax-deductible donation of $199 and a purchase price of $201. If you were already planning on donating $199 to a charity before the end of 2007, then by donating it to OLPC, you get to spend that extra $201 for your own XO laptop plus the T-Mobile HotSpot account. On its own, a year of pre-paid T-Mobile HotSpot (the cheapest option) is $359.88. For your additional $201, you’re getting that plus a weird little Kermit-and-marshmallow laptop/tablet!
This is sort of a “splitting hairs” way of looking at it, but it’s applicable to those people who are looking to donate $199 to charity anyway. For the rest of us, this deal effectively costs $400 because the donation is forced, and you wouldn’t have otherwise spent it. It’s still a great deal (like buying a year of T-Mobile and getting an XO laptop for about $60 including shipping), but not as attractive as it is to those who, for whatever reason, were going to be donating the $199 anyway.