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AT&T, LG Launch 3G Netbook

The subsidized netbook will be powered by Windows XP and requires a $60 monthly data plan from AT&T.
LG Electronics is entering the U.S. netbook market and it is teaming with AT&T to offer customers a subsidized mini-laptop that has integrated 3G access.

The LG X120 has relatively standard specifications for a device of its class including a 10.1-inch screen, 1 GB of RAM, 160-GB hard drive, high-definition stereo speakers, Wi-Fi, and a 3G modem to access AT&T's 3G network on the go. The netbook is powered by Windows XP, and it also comes with a SmartOn interface that gives users one-click access to specified applications.

The netbook will be available at RadioShack retail stores and online for about $180 with a two-year contract for AT&T's mobile data plan, which costs about $60 a month with a 5-GB cap. AT&T's mobile broadband subscribers will also receive free access to more than 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide.

The move comes as many mobile operators are looking at netbooks as a way to monetize their mobile data networks. The carriers have long had success discounting cell phones or smartphones in order to get customers on long-term service contracts, and these companies are trying to apply this business model to the netbook market. AT&T has been the most aggressive with netbooks so far, but Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel are also offering discounted mini-laptops with mobile data packages.

It is unclear how strong consumer demand is for subsidized netbooks though, as many of these devices can be purchased outright for under $400. Also, cell phones are essentially useless without a carrier's service but netbooks can be fully utilized anywhere there is an open Wi-Fi hotspot.