Trusted Reviews has been spending some quality time with a Dell Inspiron Mini netbook designed to work with Vodafone’s 3G wireless network in the UK. As you can kind of see from the picture, the SIM card slot hangs out behint he battery. Just pop the battery out, slide in your Vodafone SIM card, and you can connect to the web on the go with speeds up to 7.2Mbps thanks to the built in HSDPA modem.
According to the review, even if you’re not in an area where you can pick up a strong 7.2Mbps signal, connection speeds are pretty fast. For the most part, Trusted Reviews seems to like the Inspiron Mini, giving the netbook 9 points out of 10. It’s got a good screen, trackpad, keyboard, and size. The audio’s passable but not great, and there’s no 802.11n like you’ll find on some Eee PC models.
But really, what you have to ask yourself when buying a 3G enabled netbook is, can I afford it. While the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, like other netbooks, is cheaper than most full sied laptops, you have to pay a monthly fee if you want to pick one up with a wireless contract. Vodafone is subdizing the price of the Inspiron Mini, giving it away for free with a 2 year contract. The cheapest contract available costs £25 a month and has a 1GB bandwitdh cap. For £30 a month you get a 3GB data cap. That means you wind up spending £600 to £720 over two years for the netbook and data plan. Or you could pick up an Inspiron Mini 9 with no data plan and no service contract for about half the price. But you’d need to rely on WiFi or Ethernet for your connectivity.