Yes it's VIA, but it is free. With a contract, that is.
As we’ve proved over the recent weeks, netbooks are, if you’ll forgive the cliché, the new black. The revolution started by Asus Eee PC and continued by the MSI Wind, HP 2133 Mini-Note and their ilk seems nigh-on impossible. Now the Carphone Warehouse looks to be trying to cash-in on the hysteria, bundling a, Eee PC-a-like with a £25pm mobile broadband package.
The system in question in the Elonex Webbook, a 10.2in system sporting a Via C7-M processor, an 80GB hard drive and 512MB of RAM. That may not sound like much, but it’s running Windows XP so the small memory capacity isn’t such a bad sign. Although as the HP Mini-Note proved, the VIA CPU isn’t exactly up to much more than casual web browsing – and even then you can’t even watch YouTube videos particularly well. Although performance is improved by a recent update, apparently.
The contract itself is from Orange and offers a 3GB download limit, up to 1.8MB/s download speeds and ties you in for 24 months. Considering the Carphone Warehouse offers the notebook by itself for £250, you’re paying £350 for your mobile internet access – or £15 a month.
That’s pretty much equivalent to buying your own Eee PC, Wind or whatever and taking out a mobile broadband package with Vodafone (by far the best HSDPA provider in our estimation) so we can’t say the deal is a great one. It can be argued, at least, that you’re not ”worse” off either way – except that Orange’s coverage is notoriously bad.
We’ve seen this free-computer-with-(mobile)-broadband trick before, but the machines offered were never particularly compelling, generally being bland grey boxes. Netbooks, on the other hand have a certain cachet to them currently, so doubtless many will be tempted by the offer.