Netbooks Bundled with Service Providers – Advantageous?

If you check out the service provider bundled netbooks, you will find that the prices you will get on them are way cheaper than buying a netbook and then a data plan separately. With existing service providers like Verizon or AT&T, you can sign up for a two-year lock-in plan period which will allow you to avail of a subsidized netbook along with the plan.

These kinds of packages are similar to the ones that many of these companies provide to cellular phone users. It was found that the prices used on cellular phone plans are comparable to the netbook plan when looking at the bottom-line prices of the two-year plans offered.

Netbooks being offered

Various service providers will offer various netbooks according to their contracts with the different companies producing them. For the AT&T netbook plans the available netbooks that go with the lock-in period plans are the Lenovo IdeaPad S10, the Acer Aspire One, and the Dell Mini 10. Each of these netbooks go for about $200 for each unit with the plan. However, if you buy the netbook alone, for the Lenovo IdeaPan S10 you can spend $330, for the Acer Aspire One you will shell out $300, and for the Dell Mini you will spend $349 for the unit alone, without the plan.

As for the Verizon service provider, the netbooks offered are the HP Mini 1151NR or the Gateway LT2016u. These netbooks are both offered with lock-in period plans and cost as low as $150 each. If you were to buy the units alone without the plans, you would spend about $400 for the HP Mini 1151NR, and roughly about $300 for the Gateway LT2016u.

Plans without unlimited data

When you get a smartphone using an AT&T or Verizon account, you usually end up with a fairly good deal on the line with unlimited data. This is offered at around $30 monthly. But for netbooks, the data-only 3G plans give the customers limited data for differently tiered plans. This is understandable because with smartphones, one doesn’t fully utilize smartphones to make larger downloads and do heavier online work. Instead smartphone use smaller applications and are limited to checking email or updating online information at a limited capacity.

Verizon and AT&T have two kinds of plans that they offer customers for now. At $40, AT&T offers 200MB data monthly while Verizon offers 250MB monthly. Their next plan for $60 allows for 5GB data monthly. It is possible to exceed the cap on bandwidth on your locked-in plan wherein you end up paying for the extra MBs that you use. For AT&T, 100MB extra would cost you about $10 on the $40 plan, while the $60 plan would charge you up to $0.50 for every 1MB of data that you use over the 5GB. As for Verizon, the $40 plan requires you to pay $0.10 for every extra 1MB of data that you use, while on the $60 plan you only pay an extra $0.05 for every additional 1MB.

Speed and the prices you’ll pay for it

For the speed that it takes you to upload or download information on your netbook 3G plan, you will be charged for it as well. For the DataConnect plans of AT&T, the speeds for uploads are 0.5 to 1.2 mbps, while the download speed is 0.5 to 0.8 mbps. The EvDO Mobile Broadband network plans of Verizon offers upload speeds of 0.65 to 0.8 mbps and download speeds of 0.6 to 1.4 mbps.

Netbook specifications for the 3G plans

Any of the netbooks that are offered by AT&T or Verizon basically have the same unit specifications across brands and will probably deliver the same quality performance. It is up to the customer to have a brand of choice for the netbook plan they pick. All of the netbook units run on the Windows XP operating system, have a 10-inch screen display, a 1.6Hz Intel Atom processor, a 160GB hard disk, and 1GB of RAM. However, unlike the regular laptops, you can expect these netbooks to perform slower especially with the ion chipsets that are installed in them along with the multiple processors.

General perspective

Whether you go with AT&T or with the Verizon service providers, you’ll basically get the same quality and specifications in netbook units and plan offerings. For those who use the internet for light tasks, these plans may work for you. However, for a majority of people, they may find the caps of 200MB to 5GB to be a bit too limiting considering the high price you are paying for the lock-in plans. The lock-in plan may result in you spending over a thousand dollars on the netbook plan at the end of it all, which may not seem attractive to you if you feel that buying the netbook unit itself would make more sense financially. Again, it’s up to the buyer. Other things to consider would be the service provider coverage in your area and your personal need that may require you to avail of something higher than the bandwidth cap.

Other options

You still have the option of buying your netbook at the regular prices that were quoted earlier, from the different websites and distributors of the netbook brands. But you may still have to get a plan from the mentioned service providers to get that internet connection you need to utilize your netbook.

Another alternative is purchasing from AT&T at $450 or Verizon at $600 at their ‘no commitment’ cost. Or you can even get the USB modem from AT&T at $120 or at Verizon at $50 to up to $200, but such an option would leave you to deal with a bill that can reach over two thousand dollars for 24 months.

Whatever your motives are for getting a netbook, you can look at the deals and decide which is your best option. Ultimately, the netbook is used for quick and convenient access to the web through a light weight solution, so getting one may just be what you are looking for considering your needs.

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