It's official: Verizon Wireless will begin selling a $199.99 HP Mini netbook starting May 17.
Several Web sites and publications had written that Verizon was ready to offer a netbook tied to a data plan and service agreement, and the carrier officially announced May 14 that it would begin selling Hewlett-Packard's HP Mini 1151NR netbook on May 17.
Verizon now joins AT&T as a seller and retail source for netbooks, aka mininotebooks, which have begun to make an impact on the worldwide PC market as consumers and some business users look for cheaper alternatives to larger and pricier laptops.
Right now, AT&T sells a number of netbooks with data plans and service agreements in a limited number of cities. The current AT&T lineup includes the Acer Aspire One, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 and Mini 12, and the LG Xenia.
The fact that carriers such as Verizon and AT&T are getting involved in selling netbooks shows how popular these devices have become in just a short period of time. The fact that Verizon and AT&T can offer subsidized netbook prices-in the same way that carriers subsidized cell phones for years-also shows how far PC component prices have fallen over time.
In addition, netbooks provide a new way for Verizon and AT&T to sell their services as sales of cell phones and smartphones slow down thanks to a sluggish global economy and reduced consumer spending. (European carriers have been offering subsidized netbooks with service agreements for several months now.)
In order to buy the HP 1151NR netbook with the Verizon plan, customers must sign a two-year contract and buy Verizon's Mobile Broadband plan, which starts at $39.99 per month, although Verizon does offer a $59.99-per-month plan with faster downloading speeds. Verizon also offers a global service plan with the HP netbook.
The $199 price for the HP Mini 1151NR mininotebook comes after a $50 rebate, so users will have to pay an upfront charge of about $250 for the netbook. While Verizon did not offer details about the HP Mini 1151NR, reports indicate the netbook uses an Intel Atom N270 processor running at 1.6GHz and offers 1GB of main memory along with a 2-in-1 memory card reader.
The HP Mini 1151NR is also supposed to work on Verizon's recently announced MiFi Intelligent Mobile Hotspot network.