Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Samsung is rolling out the Go netbook through AT&T next week. The 2.8-pound device will operate Microsoft Windows 7 Starter Edition and connect via AT&T's 3G network.
The Samsung Go is small enough to fit in a briefcase and comes in midnight blue with rounded edges. The interior is black, and a pebble-style keyboard with larger-than-average spacing aims to make typing on the device more comfortable. The Go offers an LED-backlit, borderless glass screen with a scratch-resistant coating. And Samsung promises photo-like image quality, along with better viewing angles and text legibility that works to reduce eyestrain.
The Go is powered by an Intel Atom processor and offers connectivity tools such as a 3-in-1 memory card reader and three USB 2.0 ports. The Go also comes with a 160GB hard drive to store digital photos, videos and music, and a four-cell battery that lets users stay connected for up to four hours on a single charge.
"The portable, lightweight design and robust feature set of the Samsung Go allows users to stay connected whenever, wherever," said Douglas Albregts, vice president of and marketing for Samsung Electronics America. "The Go makes everything from updating your social-networking sites to surfing the web, or even catching up on work e-mails, fast and fun."
Counting the Costs
Of course, like other netbooks consumers buy through wireless carriers, the Go comes at a heavy discount but with an ongoing price. The Samsung Go is available for $199 after a mail-in rebate and the purchase of a two-year AT&T DataConnect service agreement, with pricing starting at $35 per month.
AT&T offers two AT&T DataConnect plans for netbooks, including a 200MB option for $35 per month or a 5GB plan for $60 per month. AT&T DataConnect plans offer subscribers access to the carrier's 3G network and free use of AT&T Wi-Fi service and its 20,000-plus hot spots nationwide.
"Demand for netbooks remains strong among consumers, small-business customers and those who desire constant access to the Internet while on the go," said David Haight, vice president of business development for AT&T Mobility. "Paired with the nation's fastest 3G network, AT&T Wi-Fi service, and now the value and ease of use of Windows 7, these devices will make very attractive and affordable gifts this holiday season."
The Challenge of Connectivity
Netbooks are going to sell very well this holiday season, but connected netbooks are still an emerging category, according to Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. This category, he said, faces the challenge of asking consumers to take on a new service plan for a class of device for which they have not typically paid for service.
"It's one thing to ask a consumer to step up from a feature phone with a voice plan or a messaging plan to a voice and data plan on a smartphone. It's just a slight increase over what they were already paying for a class of device they consider indispensable. But netbooks are typically purchased as secondary or tertiary computers," Greengart said.
"When you add a $60-a-month plan to this device, it becomes a different type of device. There are classes of consumers who value data and are looking to spend money for cellular data connectivity for a computer. This class of people can include anyone from road warriors to students. But it's a niche."