The biggest problem with netbooks and computers in general these days is how tethered we are to our home wireless Internet connections. Being able to get online whenever we want has become a big part of daily living, and at least for me, I feel lost when I’m away from the Internet for more than a few hours or days. Since getting an Internet connection for my phone, getting email on the go has been a breeze and a lifesaver in some situations. But what are computers supposed to do? Having a phone connected to the Internet is great, but it isn’t as nice as being able to open up a laptop on the go and browse the web with ease.
3G enables netbook users to utilize the same connectivity that cell phones use to get online while they’re on the move. If you’re looking for a netbook that not only allows you the freedom to use your computer without having to lug around a large carrying case as well as get online anywhere you have a 3G cell phone network connection, I suggest you keep on reading. I’ve done some research and dug up all of the information you need to get started in the 3G netbook world, as well as which computers are best suited to the task. Without wasting anymore time, let’s dive right in.
What is 3G?
3G is the shorthand abbreviation of Third Generation Mobile Telecommunications. In short, it’s a set of standards developed by mobile companies to make all of their devices compatible with the same regulated towers. In recent updates to the 3G network protocols, Internet speeds of up to a few megabits per second have been added to enable Internet access to mobile modems and smart phones.
This means that whenever you hear the term “3G enabled” or “4G enabled,” the person using the terms is referring to a set of standards put in place by mobile companies to ensure that devices all work on the same technology and can use the same towers and frequencies to communicate with one another. For the end consumer, it means fast speeds for mobile devices that allow them to get online wherever they are in the country.
Unfortunately, 3G isn’t free to use by anyone. While devices like the Amazon Kindle use 3G to communicate back and forth with Amazon to buy books from their bookstore, netbooks have a much broader range of communication capabilities and paying for 3G connectivity is required. If you’re in the United States, companies like AT&T or Verizon offer SIM cards that can be added to 3G laptops to give them 3G connectivity.
Obviously, the price of plans will vary depending on how much data you think you will transfer in a given month. With my cell phone I pay approximately $50 a line for unlimited data usage, but if all you want to do is check email and browse a few websites, you can easily get away with plans that range from $15-$20 a month for Internet Connectivity.
Which Netbooks Have 3G
Here’s where things get a little trickier in terms of how you’ll be able to get online once you’ve subscribed to a plan through AT&T or Verizon. While both companies offer netbooks themselves, they’re not always the most cost friendly devices around, and often times you’ll end up with an external 3G antenna that’s unsightly and unwieldy while you’re trying to work. These 3rd party options are much better all around, not only in terms of price, but also in terms of functionality as well.
Asus EEEPC 1005PEG:
I’ll save you the hassle of having to read through an entire review of a netbook that’s identical to its non-3G twin. The 1005PEG comes with a 1.6GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 10.1” screen. The netbook is powerful enough to handle all basic computing tasks without much lagging or slowdowns at all and is cheap enough that it won’t leave a huge dent in your wallet wishing you got more bang for the buck. The EEEPC line is a great line by Asus that has lived up to its name in terms of build quality and functionality for a few years now. Also, there’s a whopping 11 hours of battery life out of this thing, which is outstanding for a laptop.
Where the important information starts coming in though is when we start talking about the 3G capabilities. 3G doesn’t normally come standard in netbooks, so 3G in this little guy is out of the ordinary. The built in 3G module has a preinstalled AT&T SIM card that allows you to use their service to connect to the Internet on the go. While AT&T gets a lot of flack for not being the fastest carrier on the block, their prices are reasonable and they have a very nice sized coverage area that won’t leave you hanging when you really need to get online.
- Intel Atom N450 (1.66GHz, 512KB L2 Cache); Kindle for PC pre-installed
- 3G module built-in and AT&T SIM card allows connectivity via AT&T DataConnect Pass plans
- 1 GB DDR2 RAM, 1 SODIMM Slot, 2 GB Max; Intel UMA graphics; 160 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)
- 10.1-Inch Color-Shine 1024X600 WSVGA LCD Display; wireless 802.11 b/g/n; 0.3MP Webcam
- 6 cell battery for up to 11 Hours of Battery Life; Windows 7 Starter Operating System
Lenovo IdeaPad S10:
This guy has a little bit faster of a processor (Intel Atom N455) and the screen resolution is much higher. Although, when working on a laptop so small, I don’t know that a screen resolution difference is that big of a deal. The RAM is 1GB of DDR3 instead of the standard DDR2 that’s included above, and the hard drive is a bit bigger at 250GB instead of 160GB. But as the point of this article suggests, what we’re concerned with is the 3G connectivity. This netbook is 3G enabled, but in order to use it you’re going to have to talk to a 3G carrier to get a SIM card to pop into the IdeaPad. As said earlier, the price for service ranges from company to company and depending on how much you plan on spending online.
- Intel® Atom™ N455 Processor
- Genuine Windows® 7 Starter
- 10.1″ screen (1024×600), 16:9 widescreen
- Intel® integrated GMA graphics
- 1GB DDR3 memory, 250GB HDD storage
- Integrated 802.11b/g/n WiFi
- USB 2.0 connectors and 5-in-1 card reader
- Integrated web camera