Starting with the second item, I'm not sure who would really want to mine with one of the other Hashlets, considering the cost and average payout compared to the Zen Hashlet. Of course, that's in a large part due to the overly high payouts from Zen Pool (or LTC Pool). Where is GAW mining that they can possibly do basically twice the pay rate of mining LTC? No one knows, and I for one think GAW may simply be mining with different (more efficient) hardware and paying extra to make Zen Pool look better than the competition. By my estimate, they're paying exactly twice the going rate of LTC mining (give or take a few percent) -- so maybe GAW is stockpiling LTC and hoping the price goes back up to its former high of nearly $50? Anyway, that's a different story; let's talk about the GAW response.
The short of it is that GAW is saying they're going to put "safeguards in place" to prevent negative results in the future. How do they do that? How about this pseudo-code: "if dailypayout < dailymaintenance then dailypayout = dailymaintenance * 1.01". Or in English, they could stick in some code that say "always pay people at least 1% more than the daily maintenance fees". The fix hasn't been implemented yet as far as I can tell, but since GAW is saying we'll always own Hashlets and they'll always be worth mining, they either need to cut the maintenance fees across the line or find a way to at least make them not generate negative income.
Moving on to the other topic, GAW_CEO announced a sale on Hashlets as part of the post-convention hype. To be clear, this is on all Solo Hashlets, not Hashlet Prime, so if you were hoping to pick up the most expensive Hashlet at a discount, sorry to burst your bubble. Anyway, the prices right now at ZenMiner are as follows:
Hashlet Genesis: $8.95 per 10GH ($0.02 maintenance)
Multi Hashlet: $12.95 per 1MH ($0.08 maintenance)
Clever Hashlet: $13.95 per 1MH ($0.08 maintenance)
Waffle Hashlet: $14.95 per 1MH ($0.08 maintenance)
Zen Hashlet: $17.95 per 1MH ($0.08 maintenance)
Hashlet Prime: $49.95 per 1MH ($0.08 maintenance)
Hashlet Genesis and Hashlet Prime are both at their normal prices, but the Hashlet Solos are all being discounted a flat rate of $3. Keep in mind that this is only if you purchase through the ZenMiner Cloud, however, which sucks for those that want to buy with a credit card or some other form of money. And that's about par for the course from GAW. Also, the price for auto-purchase of Hashlets is 5% off, so the actual prices are more like $1-$2 less than normal. But what about earnings potential and ROI?
ZenHashlet has been holding pretty steady at around 0.0006 BTC per MH (give or take a couple percent), and it's by far the top earner. There have been a few occasions where one of the other pools has slightly surpassed Zen Pool for a day, but on average they're nowhere near as profitable. Looking at PoolPicker, the average payout per MH for the past week is:
Straight LTC: 0.00031
How does that work out for daily income and ROI, with and without the sale prices? I've tossed in a reference to LTCGear's annivesary1yr offering as well, just for kicks:
Days to ROI
So, if you jumped on the awesome LTC Gear sale I mentioned a week or so back, ROI is looking great. If you didn't (for instance, if your BTC was all tied up in missing BTC from X6 ASIC to Hashlet Primes that got "refunded"), you can be sad with me. Outside of that, however, it's pretty clear that only Zen Hashlet and Hashlet Prime are even moderately "safe" investments. I'm giving Prime a 50% payout advantage on the assumption you use Double Dip ever day, which is actually a bit more than you'll really see, but whatever.
And if you're wondering about the Multi Hashlet issues noted earlier, if the maintenance fee was dropped to $0.06, ROI would drop to 225-265 days for the lesser Hashlets, Zen would only go to 115 days, and Prime would be 190 days. I'd say that would be a reasonable deal, but that's not what you can buy right now so basically only Zen Hashlet is even worth considering, and even that is a risk.