Sony, who is looking to boost its lagging laptop sales, will begin integrating cellular SIM cards connected to the Cingular Network in its VAIO VGN-T350 series laptops next month. The new computers will not require a Wi-Fi hotspot to get internet access in more than 13,000 U.S. cities and towns. The "Data Connect Plan" will cost $79.99 a month for unlimited internet access. The Sony VGN-T350 laptops will be available in June with a starting price of $2,200.
is adding functionality to its laptop computers in an attempt to improve sales.
The new VAIO VGN-T350 series models have an integrated cellular SIM card that connects to the Cingular network ("Integrated Wireless Wide Area Network accessing Cingular Wireless National EDGE Network with SmartWi technology").
This means you don't need to get to a Wi-Fi hotspot to get 'Net connectivity in over 13,000 U.S. cities and towns.
The Data Connect plan monthly service is US$79.99 for unlimited downloads with a one-year agreement, or 50 MB of data for $49.95 with a two-year agreement.
The cellular service is expected to fit a market that will soon be filled by WiMAX technology.
Cellular cards are a common accessory with laptop computers, but few are integrated into the computer.
Sony is also equipping the T series laptops with standard Wi-Fi connectivity.
The VGN-T350 laptops are expected to be available this June starting from $2,200.
Read more on this topic from the Sony/Cingular SmartWi webpage and CNET.
CHRISTOPHER'S OPINION Interesting, but I can't see paying more for this functionality.
Wi-Fi cards are readily accessible and available for free if you get the right service plan.
Plus, having the card integrated into the computer sticks you with one provider.
WiMAX is still a ways out, and cellular service does fit the niche market.
I have used it when it was important to stay connected, and though sometimes painful it got the job done.
It takes you back to the dial-up days, though ...
Sony is reaching, but at least it's trying.
I find it hard to believe it costs Sony
much to do this, and thus shouldn't impact the hardware cost much.
It just seems like a gimmick to me.
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