Dell netbooks to be sold like mobile phone: this 3G netbook bundle offers the Inspiron Mini 9 at $0 upfront with 5GB of data for $70 per month over a two-year contract.
Dell and Vodafone are set to launch Australia’s first bundled 3G netbook deal. Tipped to be announced next week and be available sometime later in December, the partnership will offer Dell’s Inspiron Mini 9
netbook with an inbuilt 3G modem plus 5GB per month on Vodafone’s 3G HSDPA 3.6 network.
The total cost is expected to be around $70 per month across two years. Vodafone’s 5GB plan currently costs $40 per month including a USB modem, so the remaining $30 per month represents the hardware cost of the Mini 9, which sums to $720 over the course of the two-year contract. This is a $120 hike over the up-front cost of the Mini 9 which Dell currently sells for $599.
The deal is similar to that offered by Dell and Vodafone in the UK, where £25 (AU$60) per month over two years gets you the Mini 9 with 1GB of data per month. We reckon the Aussie deal is much better value.
Dell is also selling a 3G version of the Inspiron Mini 9 in the US for an extra US$125 over its US$449 price, against which 3G carrier AT&T offers a $120 rebate if you sign a two-year contract.WWAN marks the spot: the empty space at the bottom-left of the Mini 9's underbelly bay will be filled by a 3G HSDPA mini-card modem in models bought on the Dell/Vodafone bundle
Globetrotting geeks will also be able to take advantage of Vodafone’s excellent value global data roaming
packages, which are far cheaper than any other 3G network and come in well ahead of Vodafone’s own pay-by-the-kb rate. The ‘Light’ plan provides 25MB for $49 per month, while the ‘Heavy’ plan allows for 120MB at $199.
Sounds expensive? Not nearly as much as standard roaming data rates, which typically stretching from $10 to $20 per megabyte, depending on your home carrier and the country you’re visiting.
However, as revealed in the exhaustive annual mobile broadband test in the October 2008 issue of APC magazine, Vodafone’s network suffers from lacklustre performance. We recorded an average 317Kbit/s download speed and 111Kbit/s uplink, with a 289ms ping time – results which are barely better than plain vanilla 3G. 3 clocked around 1.6Mbit/s download and 350Kbit/s upload, with a slightly snappier latency of 235ms.
You can watch video clips
of our tests and observe for yourself the effects of each network's speed and latency using several real-world sites. The speed of each carrier will of course vary depending on your location and even the time of day when you use the network (due to the amount of users on the local cell).