ASK NBB #2: 3G Netbooks


Today we’ll be focusing on something that seems to be on everyone’s mind – 3G netbooks. I’ve gotten several emails asking about the matter, so today’s ASK NBB hopes to conquer the question once and for all.

QUESTION:

“I’m curious about 3G netbooks. Could you tell me about some netbook models that use 3G and what the future of 3G is for the industry? And what is the best mobile broadband plan for netbooks?

Thanks a lot!”

Steve M.

ANSWER:

I’m glad you asked, Steve. Since the release of the iPhone 3G the usefulness of the feature has been demonstrated in the hands of everyone lucky enough to get their hands on one. Adding 3G to netbooks makes them truly wireless tools, released from the bounds of the internet you’re getting at home or at work.

With 3G capability, you can use your netbook as a GPS system in the car, for last-minute work during a morning train commute, or while relaxing in a park far from Wi-Fi access. Sounds pretty good. So what netbooks out there will get you 3G?

Recent weeks have brought a horde of new 3G netbook releases, with both the Neo 101 and 720p Dell Mini 10 being released in the past few days alone. Lenovo also updated its virulently successful IdeaPad line with a new 3G netbook just four days ago.

The swift gains in 3G netbooking are no surprise – China Mobile, a 3G wireless provider, recently partnered with six other netbook manufacturers in order to spread 3G far and wide. The Dell Mini 10 was a product of that union, and with manufacturers “Lenovo, Founder Technology, Tsinghua Tongfang, Haier Group, [and] Hewlett-Packard” on board as well it’s looking like China Mobile’s netbook 3G is going to get very big very quickly.

So what about mobile broadband plans for netbooks? The main contenders are Verizon, which plans to subsidize the HP Mini 1000 according to a recent leak, and AT&T, which intends to offer a wide variety of netbooks including the Dell Mini 9 for as little as $49.99 nationwide.

It’s hard to say which plan is better – the cheap netbooks are a huge bonus, but both plans can get quite pricey as one unfortunate Oklahoma woman recently learned. I can’t give you a definitive answer about which to choose, but be sure to take into account more than just the initial cost of the netbook or the monthly rate – many mobile broadband companies charge extra fees for going above storage allowances, which could end up punishing your wallet if you aren’t careful.

In the end, 3G is an extremely useful feature which has become more and more widespread in the very recent past. It won’t be long before nearly all netbooks come with 3G, and if I may say so myself, that sounds pretty damn good.

Good luck to you, and as always, happy netbooking!

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Interested in getting your own question answered on ASK NBB? Here’s how! Be sure to check out our first ASK NBB for some guidance on buying a new netbook.

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