When Asus announced the first netbook back in June 2007, the company said it would sell for $199. That turned out to be too optimistic, but two years later prices are really starting to drop.
Several sites have noted that the latest Dell flyer includes an updated version of the company's 10-inch netbook, the Inspiron Mini 10v, which will be available in mid-May for $299. The current model, the Inspiron Mini 10, sells for $399. Both look similar, but the Mini 10v uses the 1.6GHz Atom N270 chip found in most netbooks, rather than the Atom Z series. The Inspiron Mini 9, which starts at $279, already uses the Atom N270.
Computer makers are also cutting deals with wireless carriers to offer subsidized netbooks with data contracts. The latest rumor involves the HP Mini, which continues to be one of the better netbook designs. The mobile site Boy Genius Report says it has confirmed that HP and Verizon will announce the HP Mini 1151nr for $199 with a two-year contract on May 17. That's the same day that Verizon will release the Novatel MiFi 2200, a tiny, battery-powered wireless router with a 3G modem that's been getting some good reviews. So that's another way to get your netbook or notebook online from virtually anywhere.
One reason that netbook prices need to come down is that ultraportable notebooks are moving closer to their turf. Last week I wrote about two low-cost 13-inch laptops, the Gateway UC series and HP Pavilion dv3. Acer's Timeline series and the MSI X-Slim series--both of which use Intel's new CULV (Consumer Ultra Low-Voltage chips)--will also fall into this category.