Vodafone UK offers 'free' Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook with 3G contract

Earlier this month Vodafone announced its intention to sell the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook with integrated 3G WWAN connectivity in Europe.  At the time, pricing was an unknown; now the carrier has confirmed that, in the UK at least, it will be giving the netbook "free" as long as users sign up to a new two-year data contract.

That contract will cost buyers at least £25 per month ($45), adding up to £600 ($1080) over the course of the two years.  For their money, users will get 1GB of data transfers via the carrier's 3G HSDPA network, with download speeds ranging from 1Mb/s to 5Mb/s.

Of course, it could be cheaper to buy the Inspiron Mini 9 separately from Dell (priced from £299 in the UK), and then use your existing cellphone, tethered via either USB or Bluetooth, to get online.  That's a less neat solution, certainly, than the built-in 3G modem, but the money might sway some buyers. 

Alternatively, Vodafone are currently offering a USB 3G modem, with 3GB data transfer limit, for £15 a month ($27) with a two-year contract; buying the netbook seperately, that adds up to £59 ($107) more than the bundle, but you get three-times the data allowance.  I know which I would go for.