Building on the growing trend of mobile broadband companies selling netbooks, AT&T announced today that for the first time it will make its 3G wireless network service available for Windows 7 netbooks.
AT&T is highlighting the Samsung Go and Acer Aspire One netbooks. Both will be available in stores and online here later this month.
The netbooks will come pre-installed with Windows 7 and will be the first Windows 7 machines to have built-in access to AT&T’s 3G service and its Wi-Fi network, which the company says has more than 20,000 hot spots nationwide.
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Both netbooks have 10-inch screens and weigh less than 3 pounds, and will run Windows 7 Starter version. Despite recent consumer complaints about the restrictions and lack of features in Windows 7 Starter, the majority of netbooks sold on Amazon.com are shipping with the Windows 7 Starter version.
[ For complete coverage on Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system — including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts — see CIO.com’s Windows 7 Bible. ]
The price is the same for both netbooks: $199 after a mail-in rebate via an AT&T promotion card. The $199 pricing requires the purchase of a new two-year AT&T DataConnect plan, which includes a 200MB option for $35 per month or a 5GB plan for $60 per month.
The netbooks also come with AT&T Communication Manager (ACM) 7.0 preloaded. ACM is a feature that helps users manage their usage and connections. It automatically connects users to AT&T Hot Spots when available and the program is activated. The recently revamped ACM is designed to be compatible with Windows 7.
AT&T and Verizon are currently the only telecom providers in the U.S. that are bundling netbooks with data plans. Both companies began selling netbooks at a discount this year as a way to combat the slowdown of smartphone sales during a recession.
Microsoft says that the AT&T netbooks are just the beginning, and more telecom providers will soon be offering subsidized plans for Windows 7 netbooks. In a post on the Windows 7 blog, the company forecasts that more than 50 telecom providers worldwide will deploy Windows 7 netbooks by 2010.
Microsoft spokeperson and blogger Brandon LeBlanc writes: “In the same way that Windows XP made Wi-Fi mainstream for the first time, Windows 7 has the potential to do the same to 3G and at the same time redefine what people come to expect from their PCs while they’re on the go.”
Here are additional details about the two new Windows 7 netbooks with 3G connectivity from AT&T:
The Samsung Go netbook weighs 2.8 pounds, features and Intel Atom Processor, a 160 GB hard drive, 1GB of memory, high definition audio, a 1.3 megapixel web camera, simple data sharing connectivity tools and an LED backlit display.
The Acer Aspire One weighs 2.2 pounds and is equipped with an Intel Atom processor, a 160 GB hard drive, 1GB of memory, high definition audio support, two built in speakers, three USB 2.0 ports, a video conferencing feature and a built-in Webcam.
Shane O’Neill is a senior writer at CIO.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter at twitter.com/CIOonline.