Dell is now offering Mobile WiMax as an option on two laptops, the Studio 16 and Studio XPS 17. The Intel 5159 WiMax/802.11n combo card is a $60 upgrade over the standard 802.11n Mini Card.
These desktop replacements seem like an odd choice since the point of mobile broadband is, well, mobility. It would be nice to have the option on netbooks and ultraportables. Then again, WiMax is marketed as a replacement for home broadband, as well as mobile data.
The biggest strike against WiMax is its limited availability. Mobile WiMax is currently available only in Portland and Baltimore, though Sprint has announced plans to expand its Clear network this year to include Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Seattle. But wireless network build-outs are notorious for missing deadlines.
HP, the world's largest laptop maker by units, does not offer WiMax as an option on any notebooks. Mike Hockey, an HP spokesperson, said via e-mail that WiMax is an emerging technology and "at this time it is premature to integrate mobile WiMAX into HP notebooks due to the limited scope of commercially available networks." An Acer spokesperson said the company has qualified WiMax on several notebooks, but none of its U.S. resellers has chosen to make the option available on its retail models.
Of course, you can always use a USB modem. Sprint's U300 USB modem, which supports both 3G and Mobile WiMax, is $80 with a two-year contract.
Meanwhile, Verizon is moving forward with its 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network, a competitor to Mobile WiMax. Verizon plans to start trials later this year and launch it commercially in early 2010. Dell's blogger-in-residence, Lionel Menchaca, noted that Dell was also looking at LTE.