In truth, options for netbook bundles aren’t as prevalent as they used to be. A year ago, there were deals available through all three major networks, but neither Vodafone nor Telstra appear to offer the option anymore. That might reflect a general shift towards specialised plans for devices such as the iPad or a recognition that 24-month contracts can be limiting. In any event, no matter which provider you pick, you’ll ultimately be using the Optus network.
That doesn’t mean you can’t purchase any netbook or notebook PC of your choosing and add your own 3G broadband access (in which case, our Planhacker roundups of prepaid and postpaid deals may be helpful), but the options for getting a single-payment package aren’t extensive.
As such, the major deciding factor is likely to be the model of machine you want. Blink unusually lets you select any model you like and factor that cost in to monthly payments, but that means no integrated modem (a $99 USB modem is included in the calculation here). It also offers weekly payments that are marginally cheaper than the monthly option. Optus has three models on sale, offering by far the widest choice and realistically presenting the best option if you do want an all-in-one deal.
Dodo offers the positively ancient original Eee PC, a fine machine in its day, but not very good value in mid-2010. In any event, while we’ve included them for completeness, we’d advise against Dodo given its shoddy reputation for customer service.
Optus’ own total download limit seems fairly high, but there’s a slight catch. Optus is now using peak and off-peak data access rates, so the practical total is likely to be lower than listed. We haven’t included online sale specials (such as free optical drives with some models) in this listing.
The full table of plans is included below in PDF form.
If you want to dig into the fine print for any deal mentioned, here are the relevant sites:
Let us know about any other good netbook bundle deals you’ve found in the comments.
Lifehacker’s weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.