Dell’s new Studio notebooks are pretty spunky, but from a productivity point of view they have an even bigger benefit: support for wireless broadband from both Telstra and Vodafone. While building in a 3G modem is not unusual, most notebooks tend to be tied to a single carrier, which is bad news if you live in the wrong reception area or already have a long-term contract with another provider.
The flexibility is welcome, but it isn’t absolute. You have to select the carrier you want at the time of purchase, and the machine will then ship with a new SIM card, leaving you to contact the provider and select a plan. And if you already have a Telstra or Vodafone 3G data account, you’re seemingly out of luck: the official word from Dell is that only the provided SIM is supported and there’s no scheme for using an existing subscription. So it’s fiddlier than a “one modem fits all” solution, but a useful step forward nonetheless.