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Making sense of Verizon Wireless's 3G netbook bundle

Verizon Wireless is rolling out its 3G netbook bundle, but does it make financial sense? On Sunday, you will be able to purchase an HP Mini 1151NR Netbook for only $199.99 after a $50 dollar mail-in rebate in combination with a two year Verizon Wireless service agreement.

A Verizon two year data plan will cost $40 a month with a whopping 250 MB of downloading per month. Overage charges after that are 10 cents per megabyte.  Going up to $60 give you a 5 GB cap and only 5 cents per megabyte for overage; down from 25 cents per megabyte.

Occasional users get a $15 a day “Mobile Broadband DayPass” for $15, giving users 24 hour access to the Internet for any Verizon-certified mobile device purchased at full retail price without a monthly service plan.  If I used 3G for less than three days a month, this might make sense; it also sounds like a Xerox out of Sprint/ClearWire’s WiMAX playbook.  But then you have to factor in the retail list price through Verizon for the HP netbook of $519.99, so the payback on that is…not worth the time to pull up the Excel spreadsheet to say “Ugh!”

I’ve been running around with an Acer Aspire One netbook since the fall (XP/hard drive load, list price $350 at Best Buy when purchased, now around $300 through Walmart) and simply tethering it (Phone as modem) through a USB connection to my Sprint phone (PAM plan around $40/month with 5GB cap, if memory serves; need to check my phone bill).

The HP netbook has a bigger screen (10.1 inches vs. 8.9 for the Aspire), but otherwise they come up pretty equal.

If you were a heavy 3G CDMA user/traveler, this might be your thing, especially if you didn’t want to dork around with WiFi roaming and irregularities – that’s why I went 3G a couple of year ago.  I suspect the “fleet”/business offerings on this product are going to be where Verizon Wireless really makes some cash. Average user?  Not so much.

Sourcing CNet blog.

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