The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 has won the race to be the first netbook to include an optional wireless broadband modem and service plan in the United States. While Acer, Asus, Dell, and others have been working with wireless carriers in Europe and other countries for a few months, most netbooks sold in the US have just a WiFi module for wireless connectivity.
Today Dell began offering customers who purchase a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook running Windows XP (sorry Ubuntu users!) the option of adding a 3G HSPA modem for an extra $125. You get $120 back when you sign up for a new 2 year AT&T service plan. But still, the price seems a bit steep when you consider the fact that wireless carriers in Europe are subsidizing the cost of netbooks, not just the price of the modem.
The AT&T service plan will cost you about $60 a month, which is par for the course. But you could get pretty much the same service if you just pick up a USB modem from AT&T which you’ll be able to use with multiple computers, which seems like a better deal to me than a service plan tied to just one computer. On the other hand, if you don’t plan to switch computers often, and if you don’t like carrying around a computer and a separate piece of hardware to connect to the internet, I could see how the Mini 9/AT&T bundle could be an attractive combo.