Netbook/Mobile Broadband Packages
No matter how you look at it, mobile broadband rates aren’t cheap. You can, however, get some pretty decent deals on netbooks if you’re willing to shop around. If you happen to be looking for both, however, it makes sense to consider the netbook/mobile broadband packages that are starting to pop up with various carriers. One of these deals is currently being offered by Verizon and includes a HP Mini 1151NR netbook at a discounted price if you’re willing to sign a two-year mobile broadband contract.
The Netbook – HP Mini 1151NR (4 out of 5)
The HP Mini 1151NR comes bundled with the Windows XP Home operating system. Considering that the machine meets Microsoft’s definition of netbook (or small notebook, as they’re called in Redmond), I wonder if we’ll see this same device set up with Windows 7 sometime this fall.
For a more in-depth look at this netbook, see our separate review of the HP Mini 1151NR.
Mobile Broadband Contract (4 out of 5)
If you’ve been shopping for a mobile broadband contract, you’ve probably already noticed that they all seem to be about the same price. The Verizon plan has two options. The so-called “low usage” plan runs $39.99 per month and allows 250 MB of data transfer a month with a $0.10 per MB rate for each MB you go over this allowance. In other words, when Verizon says “low usage”, they really mean low.
The more standard plan includes a 5 GB monthly allowance and costs $59.99 per month. If you happen to go over the 5GB monthly allotment, you’ll be charged $0.05 per MB. That may not sound like a lot, but considering that 1 GB is 1024 MB, that overage charge really amounts to $51.20 per GB. Just as an example, downloading a single 3 minute song can use up around 4 MB. Furthermore, if you plan to watch a lot of videos, you could fly through that 5 GB in no time.
I’d really like to see monthly plans with larger monthly allowances, but such plans aren’t being offered by any carrier on a nationwide basis – you might be able to find some decent regional plans though. One thing that Verizon does have in its favor is its extensive nationwide coverage area, which can make all the difference in the world if you travel a lot. So, on the whole, I’d have to rate Verizon a 4 out of 5 in this category. I still think the plan pricing is too high, but it’s pretty much on par with other major carriers.
The Complete Package (4 out of 5)
What’s the final verdict? If you’re just looking for a netbook and don’t think you’ll get much use out of the mobile broadband deal, you’re not getting any bargains here. The monthly charges add up to about $960 or $1,440 over the life of the two-year contract, depending on which plan option you choose. For that kind of money, you can pick up the best netbook HP has to offer and still have quite a bit left over.
On the other hand, if you’re not crazy about the HP Mini 1151NR but still want to purchase a netbook and a mobile broadband plan, you do have other options. The pricing on Verizon’s plan (nor the plans of other major carriers) isn’t dependent on purchasing a netbook to go along with it.
With all that being said, I still think this combo netbook/mobile broadband plan offers a number of benefits, especially in terms of easy set up. The HP Mini 1151NR is a solid netbook, and the built-in 3G means you don’t have to worry about a lot of the hassles that come along with USB antennas. I’d still like to see the return of an unlimited mobile broadband package even if it meant a slightly higher monthly charge. Maybe someday.