Dell builds a 3G HSDPA modem into the $999 Inspiron Mini 12 netbook, while slashing the non-3G model to $749.
Dell’s 12 inch Windows Vista netbook
has finally gone on sale, with pricing that’s set to seriously shake up the netbook market.Originally slated
to sell for $999, that price now includes an embedded 3G HSDPA modem capable of running on 2.1GHz 3G networks and Telstra’s 850MHz Next G network.
And if you want your Mini 12 without mobile broadband, you’ll find it appearing online sometime this weekend for $749, a Dell spokesman told APC. That price stacks up well against competing netbooks with 9 inch and 10 inch screens, especially when you consider the Inspiron Mini 12’s near full-sized keyboard and 12 inch screen.
We don’t have any further details on the new entry-level Mini 12 but we know it’ll sport the standard three-cell battery and come with Intel’s 1.6GHz Atom Z530 processor.
The 3G model, on the other hand, is fitted with the cheaper and slower 1.3GHz Atom Z520, while the hard drive has been downsized from the originally promised 60-80GB to 40GB – sufficient for the netbook’s intended use as a secondary device, but still one that could cramp your style if you want to load up a bevvy of downloaded videos to watch on the road or travel with a copy of your entire iTunes library.
(APC suggests prospective buyers experiment with vLite
to trim Vista’s disk and memory footprint down to size).
While Dell already has partnerships with Telstra and Vodafone for conventional notebooks fitted with mobile broadband, the Inspiron Mini 12’s Web page
currently offers no information on if the Mini 12 is tied to either carrier or if both are on offer.
If you do
get a choice of carriers, APC’s recent mobile broadband shootout
indicates that Telstra’s network is both the consistently fastest and the most expansive. Recent price cuts
have set an entry-level plan at $30 (albeit with a low 200MB monthly allowance, which is still sufficient for people who only occasionally need mobile broadband when they're out an about), with $90 getting you 5GB (up from 3GB) and those infamously outrageous excess usage fees dropped in favour of a speed reduction to 64Kbit/s.
Vodafone’s prices are cheaper, of course – $20 gets you 1GB and $45 gets you 5GB, both with a 10c/MB levy for drawing data above the monthly limit – and the carrier’s global data roaming packages
represent amazing value for geeks on the go. But APC’s testing saw Vodafone’s network suffer from lacklustre performance, with an average 317Kbit/s download speed, 111Kbit/s uplink and 289ms ping time – results which are barely better than plain vanilla 3G.