The Dodge Retort

Tech, media and other interesting stuff

Netbooks for $100 IF you Sign up for Broadband

Posted by jdodge349 on February 26, 2009

The netbook revolution just got more interesting with huge discounts for customers signing up for two years of 3G broadband from the likes of AT&T.

For example, signing up for two years of AT&T LapTop Connect earns you a $350 mail-in rebate on the Dell Mini 9 normally priced at $449. With only 8 Gb of solid state storage, the unit is overpriced compared to similar models, but it’s one of the few with a built-in cellular modem. Radio Shack and AT&T have teamed up to offer with a similar deal with the Acer Aspire.

At $60 a month for two years, $1,440 for 3G more than makes up for the discounts of the netbooks. And I’ve used 3G and once you get it, giving it up is often not an option.

The weak link in these deals, quite frankly, are the netbooks. The tech press and analyst firms which forecast sales ranging between 25-35 million units in 2009 have fallen in love with them. But the keyboards are still cramped and the displays are too small to stably hold an image. The other problem is the high expense of 3G — $60 a month is a lot (it’s the same for Verizon Mobile Broadband, but AT&T has gotten the jump in the netbook market).

Computerworld posted a story today that asked an intriging question: are netbooks the cell phones of the future? HP, according to the story, which makes the best netbook I’ve had the chance to test is also rumored to be considering a 3G bundle

Consider that I was using Gmail video chat to converse last night with my son who is studying in Europe and you see how the phoning part falls into place. I didn’t use a cell phone or a land line phone to make that call. I used my small computer whose role in calling is only going to increase.

No, you can’t carry a netbook around in the your pants pocket and it would be hard to answer one walking down the street or, perish the thought, driving. Assuming unrestricted mobility, size remains a drawback. Still, a netbook has much more functionality and versatility than a cell phone. And the cost of a high end Smartphone and netbooks are colliding in the same price band.

In fact, the Blackberry Storm at Verizon with a two-year service contract is twice the cost of the discounted netbooks. Think about it: besides reliabilty, the major advantage enjoyed by cell phones are look, feel and size.

Collapse-ible netbook anyone?

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