Verizon Wireless is still betting that people want to get into the netbook game via a mobile carrier rather than a computer seller, announcing that it will be offering the Gateway LT2016u netbook for sale via its online store and retail locations beginning October 4. But as with Verizon’s earlier netbook deals, the computer itself may seem inexpensive, but customers will wind up shelling out a lot of money for its use by the end of their two year contract.
As netbooks go, the Gateway LT2016u is fairly run-of-the-mill: it features a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, a 10.6-inch 1,024 by 600-pixel display, 1 GB of RAM, a 160 GB hard drive, and runs Windows XP. The system sports a VGA webcam, a 4-in-1 media card reader, 802.11b./g Wi-FI, Ethernet, and three USB 2.0 ports—and, of course, supports Verizon’s 3G mobile broadband connectivity so users can surf the Web check email, and keep up with their online lives anywhere they can get mobile data connectivity.
Normally a netbook in its class would carry a retail price around $300—at least until Windows 7-equipped systems hit the market—but Verizon is offering the LT2016u for a scant $150 after a $100 mail-in-for-a-debit-card rebate. However, the catch with the pricing is that the LT2016u is that users have to agree to a two-year service plan, which runs either $39.99 a month (for 250 MG of transfer with $0.10 per MB overage) or $59.99 a month (for 5 GB of transfer with an overage charge of $0.05 per megabyte). Doign the math, customers will wind up paying almost $1,600 for the netbook plus 3G access—and that 3G connectivity is locked to the netbook and can’t be shifted to another device like (say) a phone or traditional notebook computer. The proposition may make sense for a handful of people who truly need mobile data capability in as small a bundle as they can get…but that market probably doesn’t include the general consumer marketplace Verizon is targeting with these offers.