I'm really enamored of the Asus line of Eees. I really want one for myself (I'd much rather take a cheap 7" Eee on vacation next week than my Macbook since I just want a place to download pictures, write, and catch up on homework), but I have a much better place for them.
A while back I asked about the security of laptops vs. desktops, since a number of teachers I support were concerned about laptops either walking away or being broken. Now, as we're finalizing our purchases for the summer, of course every special interest in the district is trying to get a piece of the pie (the pie just happens to be a bit larger than usual this year).
Most of the said special interests have really legitimate claims to a slice or two, but, as most of us know all too well, if you slice a pie too many ways, nobody walks away satisfied.
One of the best examples is our special education department. In particular, we offer a "tutoring" class every period of the day staffed by a rotating certified special ed instructor. Students can take exams or complete assignments with accommodations that classroom teachers can't provide or can complete homework with one on one help that too many parents can't provide. These classes, not surprisingly, show the greatest digital divide, as well, with many kids who lack access to the Internet or reliable computers at home.
As a result, we always try to keep at least 2 or 3 computers running in this class. Invariably, though, due to budget restrictions, this room always gets the hand-me-downs. The computers tend to be fairly unreliable and space constraints prevent us from having too many spares on hand.
Enter the Eee. Students in "tutoring" need Internet access and word processing/presentation capabilities; nothing more. In one fell swoop, the low end 7" Eee can give this room several computers that can be checked out by students during the class with no concerns for space or reliability. The low cost doesn't exactly make them disposable, but theft and damage are far less of a concern than with a $1000 MacBook.
6 or 7 of these machines can be had for a fraction of the cost of full-sized laptops and can even access our terminal servers. While these little netbooks are seen by some as a serious compromise, I guarantee that the special ed instructors trying to rotate kids around 3 aging desktops will see them as a serious upgrade. Now if I can just convince the wife that I really need one, too, I'll be golden.