Datawind, makers of the PocketSurfer internet access terminal, is getting into the netbook game with the launch of a 7in device known as the UbiSurfer. Costing £159, the device also comes with 30 hours per month of web access for the first year.
The UbiSurfer will go onsale through Maplin and the Ideal TV home shopping channel.
Primed with 1GB of RAM and 1GB of flash memory, the UbiSurfer's 7in widescreen display has an 800x490-pixel resolution. Connectivity is provided by a combination of GPRS, Wi-Fi and LAN. The netbook will automatically switch between connection modes and, helpfully, has a thin vertical panel on the left-hand side that shows how much of your monthly 30 hours of web connectivity you've used.
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Should you come close to this limit, Datawind will prompt you to purchase an unlimited use module costing £5.99 for the month. If you decide not to do so your web access will be restricted until the next calendar month. Datawind research suggests that most consumers spend 29 hours a month online. Once you've owned the UbiSurfer for a year, you will be able to enjoy 30 hours a month web access for a one-off cost of £29.99.
Although the netbook's 1GB installed memory is very modest, UbiSurfer owners can also make use of a 50GB online archive to store their files, photos and so on. The Linux-based netbook is not well specified for entertainment duties given its lack of DVD drive and limited screen resolution, but it has a built-in microphone, a pair of built-in speakers and a headphone socket.
An SD Card slot allows for additional local storage, while three USB ports and an Ethernet port are also provided. The UbiSurfer weighs 700g and is 222mm wide, 165mm deep and 30mm high.
Datawind is at pains to point out that the UbiSurfer isn't "just another netbook". It's a ubiquitous internet device that, claims its maker, brings the netbook full circle back to its original purpose of being a cheap, small and light device for getting online and performing basic computing tasks.
Applications preloaded on the UbiSurfer including a range of Microsoft Office-compatible word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications, a PDF viewer, a web browwser, an email client and a media player. Games and a paint program are also included.