There are a large number of ISPs and cellular carriers that are offering discounted or even free computers as part of offers for their network services. The concept is very similar to subsidized cell phones providing that users sign up with a long term contract. By signing up for service anywhere from one to two years, the computer is included free or for discounted purhcase. This can amount to anywhere between $100 and $300 in savings.
So is such an offer worth it? Typically they are not. The offer is designed to entice consumers into signing up for long term services that generally carry a fairly high price. Obviously, the service is going to factor in the cost of the PC into their total revue for the extended service contract. There are also clauses in these contracts that have penalties if the contract is terminated prior to the full term of the contract.
Take for instance an offer for bundled fiber optic internet, phone and television service that comes with a netbook for just $100. The netbook in question is priced normally around $300. This is a $200 savings off the purchase price. In order to get this discount, the buyer must sign up for $120/month service for two years. This amounts to paying nearly $3000 with all taxes.
Now, if you were already looking to get one of the services that is offering a discounted computer, this could end up being a good deal. Just take a look at what the service would cost without the PC offer versus the offer. It may turn out that it works in the consumers favor. Just remember, you don't get to choose what computer the offer includes and that could make a huge difference.