While Vodafone was the first to market with a "bundled" netbook offer, the other big carriers didn't take long to match it with similar deals. The basic details look pretty tempting, and work pretty much the same way that most mobile phone plans do. For a fixed fee, customers get mobile broadband and a laptop to keep at the end of the contract.Our tests showed that on average the integrated solutions tended to run a little slower than their external USB counterparts. Keeping with the maxim that mobile broadband can be an unpredictable thing, Optus' Samsung bundle slightly bucked this trend, most notably in our regional New South Wales test where it was the fastest on average, but then all of our regional New South Wales speeds were low in any case. The tradeoff with an embedded solution is that it's impossible to forget the modem, or have it knocked out of the USB port by a clumsy fellow commuter, as nothing extrudes from the system at all.
Dell Inspiron Mini 10Plan: $40 upfront, then $40 per month for 6 months, then $60 per month for 18monthsSupplier: VodafoneWhile they mirror the mobile phone contract market in look, a bit of basic maths and shopping around shows that not every bundle actually represents value for money. Vodafone supplied us with a Dell Mini 10, available on a contract for an effective price of $480 over the life of the contract. Given it's a $699 retail notebook, that's decent.
Samsung NC10Plan: $0 upfront, then $50 per month for 24 monthsSupplier: OptusOptus supplied us with a Samsung NC10, but was on the verge of offering new options as we went to press. The total cost of the NC10 supplied at the time of writing was effectively $600, exactly the retail price.
Samsung N310Plan: $0 upfront, then $71.46 per month for 24 monthsSupplier: Leading EdgeWe tested two Telstra options: Reseller Leading Edge sent us a Samsung N310, which is what we used for broadband comparisons to keep things on a level netbook playing field, and Telstra supplied us with an Acer 1810TZ. The N310 costs $71.46/month with a 400MB allowance.
Acer 1810TZPlan: $199 upfront, then $57.30 per month for 24 monthsSupplier: Telstra
The more flexible and powerful (not to mention more expensive to buy outright) Acer is expected to go on sale in late March through Telstra on a 24 month contract for $199 down and $57.30 per month with 1GB of data. Strip the data costs out of that plan, and the price is an effective $878 for an $1199 laptop.
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Issue: 315 | May 2013
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