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How netbook broadband bundles stack up

O2 has launched a mobile broadband plan that includes a 'free' netbook — the last UK operator to do so. Here's a look at that and all the other netbook bundles on offer
By David Meyer, Contributor on
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1 of 4 David Meyer/ZDNET

O2 is launching a mobile-broadband bundle that includes a 'free' netbook — making it the last UK mobile operator to start doing so.

The Spanish-owned operator announced on Wednesday that it will start selling Samsung's NC10 netbook (pictured) to British buyers on 27 February. It will also provide Samsung's R510 full-sized laptop on the same terms.

Those terms include a 24-month contract, in which a 3GB monthly data allowance will cost £29.38 per month, and a 10GB allowance will cost £39.15 per month. Going over the allowance will incur a charge of 19.6p per megabyte.

The 1.3kg NC10 has a 10.2-inch screen and uses Intel's 1.6GHz N270 Atom chipset. It runs Windows XP and includes a gigabyte of RAM and a 160GB hard drive.

All the other major UK operators already offer netbooks as part of mobile-broadband bundles. Larger laptops are available from most providers in similar deals; however, netbooks have always been pitched as ideal for mobile broadband, due to their light weight and small size.

The following pages show which netbooks are being offered by which operators, and on which terms. The common thread is that every deal is based on a 24-month contract.

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2 of 4 David Meyer/ZDNET

Vodafone's netbook is the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, which it is offering at £25 per month for a 1GB monthly data allowance, or £30 per month for a 3GB monthly allowance. Going over the allowance will incur an added cost of £15 per gigabyte.

The netbook has an embedded mobile-broadband module. Only two operators offer netbooks with this feature: Vodafone and Orange, with the Asus Eee 901 (detailed on the final page). All the other bundled netbooks come with a USB mobile broadband dongle.

The Mini 9 has an 8.9-inch screen and weighs 1.035kg. It uses Intel's 1.6GHz N270 Atom chipset, runs Windows XP and has a gigabyte of RAM. It also uses an 8GB solid-state drive (SSD), making it one of the only netbooks in the line-up — again, the other is Orange's Eee 901 — that does not use a hard disk drive (HDD).

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The operator 3 is offering HP's Compaq Mini 700, which is the UK's alternative to the HP Mini 1000. (The Mini 1000 will not be offered in the UK, except in the premium-priced Vivienne Tam edition.)

3 has several price options for the Mini 700: a gigabyte of monthly data allowance at £20 per month, 5GB at £25 per month and 15GB at £40 per month. Out-of-bundle data usage is charged at 10p per megabyte.

The Mini 700 weighs 1.02kg and has a 10.2-inch screen. It uses Intel's 1.6GHz N270 Atom chipset and has a 60GB hard drive. It comes with a gigabyte of RAM and runs XP.

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Orange is the only UK operator to offer a choice between two netbooks in its mobile-broadband bundles. One is the HP Compaq Mini 700 (detailed on the previous page), which it is offering at £29.36 per month with a 3GB monthly data allowance.

The other is the Asus Eee 901, which is offered at £24.47 per month with the same data allowance. Both options include a 1.46p-per-megabyte charge for going over the usage allowance.

Like Vodafone's Dell Mini 9, the 1.1kg Eee 901 has embedded mobile broadband rather than an external dongle. The Eee 901 uses a 16GB SSD, a gigabyte of RAM and Intel's 1.6GHz N270 Atom chipset. It has an 8.9-inch screen and runs Windows XP.

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