On Monday, Sprint Nextel unveiled its first netbook offering, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10. The netbook is selling at some San Francisco Bay Area stores for $199 with activation on a Sprint Mobile Broadband plan and a two-year service agreement.
The Dell Inspiron Mini 10 features embedded EV-DO Rev. A wireless service from Sprint. The service promises faster data rates and higher system capacity so users can send and receive large amounts of data at broadband speeds comparable to DSL.
The netbook weighs 2.6 pounds and measures 10.3 by 7.2 inches. It's just more than one inch thick with a 10.1-inch LED screen. The machine has an Intel Atom Processor Z520, Microsoft Windows Home XP SP3, a built-in 1.3-megapixel webcam, a 160GB hard drive, integrated Intel 500 Media Accelerator Graphics, 5-in-1 media reader, Bluetooth technology, and Wi-Fi 802.11g.
"Dell Inspiron Mini 10 is a fun way to easily access the speeds of Sprint's network to catch-up on e-mail, surf the Web, and more," said Kevin Packingham, senior vice president of product development at Sprint. "It offers an affordable way to stay in touch and stay connected."
The Need for Speed
Sprint said the faster speed lets customers to take advantage of applications and services, such as wireless VoIP, high-speed video telephony, music on demand, and video messaging.
Average upload speeds are 350-500 Kbps and download speeds are between 600 Kbps and 1.4 Mbps. Peak download data rates increase to 3.1 Mbps and peak upload rates to 1.8 Mbps. The speed comes at a price -- $59.99 a month for a 5GB data plan.
"Netbooks and data cards seem to be the first place that carriers look when they roll out faster networks because the difference in speed correlates directly to usability," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. "If you are working on a notebook or a netbook, then faster Internet is immediately useful. When you are downloading large files, uploading a lot of e-mail, or watching video, these activities benefit from faster networks."
Sprint Tests Netbook Waters
Sprint said the Dell netbook is suited for small businesses and consumers who live a mobile lifestyle and want to enhance productivity by being connected just about anywhere they go.
Taking a page out of retailer Best Buy's playbook, Sprint is also pushing its Ready Now service with trained retail associates to work with customers to set up the Dell Mini 10 and demonstrate how it works.
"The carriers seem to be testing the waters for netbooks," Greengart said. "It looks like Sprint has been waiting to see what the demand is like. They must like what they see with the AT&T and Verizon launches, and they are following suit."