The PocketSurfer 3 is a pretty curious device with a fairly unassuming appearance but it's actually a very compelling value proposition.
For just £199 you get as year's free web and email access and you don't need to spend a fortune on frothy coffee in order to get online using it.
Rather than being Wi-Fi-enabled or having a expensive embedded 3G chip, the PocketSurfer 3 uses the more ubiquitous GPRS (general packet radio service) to serve up the mobile web. As well as keeping down its cost, this has the benefit of being usable across almost all the UK.
To get round the bandwidth demands of web browsing, Datawind's own compression algorithms are used to prioritise text on web pages ahead of images. This allows pages to load in a few seconds. Don't expect to use it for viewing YouTube video clips or your Flickr photo album - it's not designed for media-heavy web browsing.
The updated PocketSurfer mobile internet access device has a 640x240-pixel TFT display and comes with its own GPRS-enabled SIM. For the first time, it's possible to run 'proper' applications on the slimline device, while its touchpad makes it easier to navigate.
As well as providing 30 hours of web access each month for the first year of ownership, maker Datawind will allow PocketSurfer 3 owners to get online while abroad. However, rather than a flat-rate fee this will be charged at 5p per minute. After the first year, owners will be able to purchase a further year's worth of web access for their PocketSurfer 3 device for £29.99.
The previous version of the PocketSurfer also allowed a year's worth of unrestricted web but had an inferior screen.
Onsale from August, the PocketSurfer 3 will be sold through Maplin.co.uk.
See also: Datawind UbiSurfer netbook.