Last Updated: Oct 17,2011
You're asking a lot for a device that is less than $450. Most smart devices that are subsidised require data plans.
Replacing a laptop is a very tall order. What exactly do you do on your laptop? I have an Eee Pad Transformer with keyboard dock. It does a lot of what my laptop can do, but cannot fully replace it. I just tried using the spreadsheet app on it and found it rather lacking.
Are you on AT&T? If so, the November 2009 date is the cut-off date for when you activate/start using a smartphone on their service, not when the phone is manufactured. All carriers require a data plan with smartphones (Android, Blackberry, iOS, webOS, Windows Phone 7). AT&T appears to tack on the data plan based on IMEI so if they don't recognize the IMEI for your non-AT&T branded smartphone, they won't tack on the data plan. I've never heard of a November 2008 date before, but even if there was one, the phones available from that time would likely suck by today's standards.
You might want to consider using a different carrier. You can get plans that offer voice/unlimited text/unlimited data for cheaper than the lowest plan with tiered data on the Big 3.
On T-Mobile, if you don't get a subsidized phone from them, I think they don't force you to get a data plan and they allow you to choose a Value Plan which is less expensive than their normal plans. Their 500 Minute Value Talk plan costs $35/month. They also have the 500 Minute Value Talk and Text plan which includes unlimited texting for $40/month.
Prepaid is another way to go. AT&T and T-Mobile don't require you to get a data plan on prepaid. On AT&T GoPhone, assuming you can stick to using wi-fi for calls and text messaging, service can cost as little as $100/year (with Pay As You Go). T-Mobile just released new prepaid plans that are looking pretty awesome. $30/month for 100 minutes/unlimited text/unlimited web (throttled after 5GB).
Unfortunately, other prepaid services such as Virgin Mobile, Boost, etc, use CDMA so device choice is sorely limited.
I've found Android to be the nicest when using internet telephony apps. I use GrooveIP for voice calls (can integrate with the native Android dialer) and the official Google Voice app for SMS and visual voicemail with transcription. The nice thing is, my Google Voice number is mine forever. I don't have to deal with number porting if I decide to change carriers.
That said, this device looks quite promising:
Get the latest update on ASUS Padfone.
You have a point there! I guess I didn
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