Sprint sells Netbook for a buck

Sprint and Best Buy are selling a Compaq Netbook for 99 cents as the wireless operator tries to entice subscribers to sign up for its two-year wireless data plan.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

If you thought a $99 Netbook was a bargain, Sprint Nextel's plan to sell Netbooks for a buck is a real steal.

Sprint has teamed up with mega-retailer Best Buy to sell the Compaq Mini 110c-1040DX Netbook for 99 cents with a two-year service contract. The offer is good at participating Best Buy stores.

Best Buy plans to sell the same Netbook for Verizon Wireless and AT&T for $199.99 with a two-year contract. Without any service contract, the Netbook costs $389.99, according to Best Buy's Web site.

Compaq Mini 110c-1040DX Netbook Compaq

The Compaq Mini 110c-1040DX Netbook features a 1.6GHz processor and 160GB hard drive.

Sprint's 3G wireless service is $60 a month for 5GB of data monthly, making the true cost of the Netbook with two years of service $1,440.

Verizon offers two tiers of data service. The $40 a month plan offers 250MB of data monthly. And the $60 a month plan offers a maximum of 5GB of data. With the current pricing, Verizon Netbook users can expect to spend $1,160 to $1,640 during the life of the contract for the service and Netbook, depending on which plan they choose.

AT&T offers similar pricing for its data service. For up to 5GB of data per month, the service is $60 a month, plus it offers free access to AT&T's 20,000 nationwide Wi-Fi hot spots. A service that offers 200MB of data per month costs $40 a month. In addition to the current offering for the Compaq Mini, AT&T also offers other Netbook deals. The subsidy price on a variety of Netbooks, including the Acer Aspire One, Dell Inspiron Mini 9 and Mini 12, and LG Xenia, ranges from $50 to $250.

Netbooks are becoming a hot business for carriers that are looking to get consumers using their wireless data services. The wireless operators are taking a page out of their old playbooks by subsidizing the devices to spur adoption.

But it's unclear so far if the plan will work. Already consumers are being asked to pay more per month for regular cell phone service. And the expensive data plans could deter some consumers who do the math and realize they don't actually need to be spending over a $1,000 for one of these mini-laptops when these devices and laptops can be used for a very low cost or even free when using Wi-Fi hot spots.