Sprint is out today with its first netbook, a Dell Inspiron Mini 10-inch model that sells for $199.99, but isn't quite the deal it seems to be.
- First, customers must sign-up for a two-year 5GB monthly data plan at $59.99-a-month to get the discount.
- Second, the $199.99 price is after a $100 mail-in rebate, so the up-front cost is $299. Which is what Dell sells the Mini 10 for on its Web site.
- Third, because the broadband modem is embedded in the netbook, you can't move the service from one computer for another.
Thus, customers end up with a powerful, if pricey, Internet connection permanently tied to an under-powered portable computer. And don't forget to apply for the rebate.
This "deal" is also only available in Minneapolis-St. Paul, according to published reports. You may or may not (if you're lucky) find it on the Sprint site after you enter your local ZIP code.
I realize this may be tilting at windmills, but I oppose the bundling of discounted netbooks with wireless broadband contracts. I also oppose handset subsidies. Both practices are bad for consumers. Better to have phones that can move from one carrier to another, as the customer desires.
In this case, a better deal is to take advantage of discounts on carrier-provided broadband card that can move from computer-to-computer or to choose the Mi-Fi portable access point, which can distribute the broadband connection to as many as five Wi-Fi-equipped computers.