Friday, September 19, 2008

How 'free' are mobile broadband laptop deals?

Most of the tech-savvy buying public are aware of the recent, and likely ongoing, release of laptop-inclusive mobile broadband deals from the likes of Orange, 3 Mobile and T Mobile. We've featured several articles on this blog on the subject and there's little doubt that thousands of happy customers have taken advantage of the deals.

But just how much do these 'free' laptops actually cost you, the consumer?

Well, in this article for the first time, we compare three of the most popular direct laptop-inclusive mobile broadband deals with their equivalent dongle-only tariffs to give you a true picture of the value for money you're getting.

Laptop-inclusive 24-month plans:

Dongle-only equivalent plans:

*Note that Orange is a special case because its dongle-only plan is only an 18month contract.

What's immediately apparent from the tables above is that the laptops offered in these plans are not, in any way, 'free'; you pay for them in full. However, this is
perhaps to be expected, after all, nothing in life is truly free!

So, you obviously do cover the laptop cost over the contract period but, the payments are spread. The premium you pay for this privilege is £31 for the Orange and 3 Mobile plans whilst for T-Mobile it's £25 over the contract term. These premiums equate to around 5%, 4% and 3.5% interest respectively on the total contract cost; not quite interest free, but competitive nonetheless.

In our view, if you're in the market for a new laptop and need mobile broadband, then this may be a great way to spread the cost. In two years time, when your contract is up, simply pick up another laptop-inclusive deal. The chances are the monthly payment will be lower by then and the laptop specification will almost certainly be better.

So students, households without landlines and small businesses - bag your laptop-inclusive mobile broadband deal now!

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