Compaq and Dell are among the PC manufacturers who already ship PCs with similar "direct contact" buttons, a calculated bet that convenience and ubiquity are going to beat due diligence on the part of consumers. Embedding a URL in hardware will certainly make alternatives (no matter how easy) just a tad less convenient than the built-in link. I wonder how the linked AOL addresses are embedded in the keyboard, and whether they're alterable. Even if they're not, would it be difficult to set up a layer which "listened" to your keyboard and performed on-the-fly translation when you hit one of those buttons?
At least one of those keys is straightforwardly user-programmable: as the article says, "[D]on't worry; there is one key, with the infantilizing name "My Key," that lets you create a link to any site on the Web." Wow -- users get one key.
AOL may change their mind about shipping these to anyone willing to fork over a few dollars for shipping. For the novelty value, or even for a one-programmable-button keyboard, less than $10 may replace a lot of coffee-ruined keyboards. Then again, the production of AOL come-on CDs doesn't seem to have waned. (But if there's a practical way to hack the pre-set presets, dollars-ta-donuts they pull the deal faster than you can say "Netpliance.")
Be grateful they haven't gotten to "direct-Internet-link" buttons on mice. Yet.