Dell Adamo XPS — How Thin is Too Thin?

I am as big a sucker for cool, thin laptops as anyone, but I have to admit I’m having a hard time getting my head around the über-thin Dell Adamo XPS. The Adamo XPS is billed as the thinnest notebook on the planet, but we have to take Dell’s word on it since they won’t let anyone play with it yet. They have been content to drive a near viral campaign consisting of brief glimpses of the XPS so far.

Dell put up a web site that shows how thin the profile of the notebook is, but the whole site exists to collect email addresses for future notifications about the XPS. Then Dell held the XPS up at a press event for other stuff, but quickly put it out of sight. Now they have released a couple of pics that shows how thin (I see a pattern here) the XPS is, along with a unique hinge system that lets the screen sit down flush with the unit when closed.

I’m getting a feeling that the XPS is too thin (9.99 mm) to be practical. I can see breaking this thing without even trying hard. I can image TSA tossing something in the bin at some airport and hearing a sickening crunch. I am very easy on gear, but I think I’d break the XPS.

Mobile Broadband Is a Luxury Keeping the Cloud Out of Reach

[qi:107] Almost half of those currently subscribing to a mobile broadband plan are willing to cut such plans in order to make ends meet, according to research from Strategy Analytics (profiled at eMarketer). Two-thirds would keep their in-home broadband, while 48 percent would dump mobile data plans. Of course they would. Any thinking person who looks at the costs per megabyte realizes that like buying diapers in airports, you’re paying a premium for convenience. So it’s not as difficult to give these plans up when times are tough.

But those stats also make clear that the promise of ubiquitous mobile computing hasn’t become as important to the average consumer as it may be to us here at GigaOM. Simply put, plenty of people can live without constant access to the cloud. As much as we love our smartphones, mobile broadband access over a 3G network is still a luxury for most.

Indeed, paying up to $60 a month for 5 GB or $40 for around 250 MB isn’t for the faint of heart, or the thin of wallet. We’ve worried how the recession would affect mobile data plans, especially as employers stopped subsidizing them. However there are signs that wireless data may become less expensive. MetroPCS (s pcs) and Leap Wireless (s LEAP) both offer cheaper mobile data plans, while Verizon (s vz) recently introduced its MiFi device, which uses the 3G network to deliver a Wi-Fi signal.

Since it requires no software, multiple people could share the MiFi. My husband and I each have a data connection and are thinking it might make sense to consolidate down to one. As wireless broadband speeds get faster through HSPA or LTE network upgrades in coming years, more consumers may join the few folks out there who already use their wireless data plans as their primary web connection — eliminating a home broadband bill entirely. I don’t recommend that step for multi-user homes or for heavy video streamers, however.

AT&T Lets Non-Committal Customers Stay That Way

logoAT&T (s t), with its new $3-a-day, unlimited cell phone plan, appears to have gotten the prepaid religion that’s spread among wireless companies as consumers in this uncertain economy question the high prices of cell phone contracts. But The New York Times sees a more interesting motive that I’m inclined to agree with — the plan is really the beginning of sophisticated pricing options that will help AT&T appeal to more customers and make more effective use of its network.

AT&T’s aiming the $3-a-day unlimited plan at subscribers who are afraid of commitment, and as such don’t want to sign an annual contract. This makes sense given that like Verizon Wireless’ (s VZ)  prepaid plans, AT&T’s $3 offer is pretty expensive. If a consumer wants to use it for more than 16 days out of the month, he might as well spring for one of the $50-per-month unlimited packages from Boost Mobile, MetroPCS (s PCS) or Leap Wireless (s LEAP). But if a customer is willing to pay more to avoid a long-term commitment, AT&T is happy to take his money.

Sweden Racing to an LTE Future

imagesSweden is fast becoming the epicenter of the LTE universe, with three of the country’s four major wireless carriers — Tele2, Telenor and TeliaSonera — racing to build 4G wireless networks. These carriers bought spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band in 2008 and are looking to roll out LTE networks by 2010, according to Wireless Intelligence, a market research service. According to some estimates, mass deployment for LTE will happen around 2012.
TeliaSonera has plans to do a commercial rollout next year starting with Sweden’s capital of Stockholm. Rivals Tele2 and Telenor are jointly building a network with service due to launch by the end of 2010, covering 99 percent of Sweden by 2013. This service will have speeds of up to 80Mb/s in rural areas and up to 150Mb/s in urban areas. 3 Sweden and Intel (s intc) also own spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band but have not announced related plans just yet. Read More about Sweden Racing to an LTE Future

Bad Economy = Great Business for MetroPCS, Q1 Subs Rise 51%

metroIt’s a good time to be a budget cell phone company, judging by the subscriber numbers out this morning from MetroPCS (s PCS). The cellular operator added 687,000 net new subscribers in the first quarter of this year, up 51 percent over last quarter’s record number. MetroPCS, which provides flat-rate service on a month-to-month basis to customers in limited markets, now has a total of 6 million subscribers vs. 4.4 million in the same period a year ago. It’s capitalizing on the financial crisis to emphasize its pre-paid cell plans, flat-rate pricing and good in-home coverage, which enables subscribers to dump their land lines. It also, however, saw churn rise from to 5 percent from 4 percent, reflecting a rise in the amount of turnover from month to month via subscribers who drop or then restart their plans.

GigaOM Spring Cleaning: Motorola and Others Hit the Dustbin

We’re no rating agency here at GigaOM, but Om and I got together this week to figure out our coverage priorities for the coming months — let’s call it a spring cleaning — and decided there are five companies that we’re just not going to spend a lot of time on anymore. Nortel (S NT) , AMD (s AMD), Motorola (s MOT), Vonage (s VG) and Alcatel-Lucent (s ALU) are getting the boot.
We’re making room for five companies that we think deserve a little more attention and/or deeper scrutiny: Qualcomm (s QCOM), MetroPCS (s PCS), Huawei, Juniper Networks (s JNPR) and Clearwire (s CLWR). All but Huawei are public companies, but Huawei is big enough to matter. This isn’t to say there aren’t tens of other companies we plan to cover closely, but since we’ve essentially upgraded a few and downgraded these others, we figured you guys might care to know what we’re thinking. If not, just skip our rationale below: Read More about GigaOM Spring Cleaning: Motorola and Others Hit the Dustbin

MetroPCS Gets BlackBerry Curve

MetroPCS (s PCS) said today it will launch the BlackBerry Curve 8330 (not Om’s latest handset crush) in several markets, including Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, with advance pay plans that range from $30 to $60 a month.  The BlackBerry (s RIMM) is the carrier’s first smart phone.

Last week, MetroPCS COO Tom Keys told us he expected the prepaid carrier to launch a BlackBerry by the second or third quarter of the year. He also told us the carrier would hopefully deploy a Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G wireless network in 2010. Since we’re still on the tail end of the first quarter, it appears they are early with the phone; we can only hope they beat their timing on LTE too.

As data becomes a must-have service on mobile phones, even the regional carriers are adding these services. With Sprint’s (s S) $50 unlimited talk and data plan on its Boost subsidiary, Leap Wireless (s LEAP) offering data cards and MetroPCS pushing a smartphone at cheap prices, the other carriers might feel some pricing pressure. However, I doubt they’ll make rapid reductions in data costs unless customers start defecting in large numbers. No carrier wants to turn the wireless golden goose into just another dumb pipe.

The GigaOM Interview: MetroPCS COO Tom Keys

The broken economy, consumer acceptance of unlimited wireless plans and a series of business decisions have positioned MetroPCS for growth, according to the company’s COO, Tom Keys. In this GigaOM interview, Keys talks about the business opportunity for MetroPCS, and its plans to transition to the LTE fourth generation wireless network.

MetroPCS Wants to Deploy LTE in 2010

Prepaid phone company MetroPCS (s PCS) says it hopes to deploy LTE, the next-generation wireless standard, beginning in 2010, according to Tom Keys, chief operating officer of the company. Keys spoke with me at the MetroPCS headquarters today in Richardson, Texas. While he couldn’t lay out a definite time frame for the deployment, he said, “It is our desire to deploy LTE in 2010, probably the latter half.” Read More about MetroPCS Wants to Deploy LTE in 2010