"Free Internet"? -yes, free, as long as you pay your mobile phone bill, says DataWind

by Tony Smith | posted on 04 July 2007

Canadian mobile internet gadget maker DataWind is coming to Europe this month on the back of the second generation of its Pocket Surfer wireless web browser, Register Hardware has learned. And it's promising "the internet anywhere... for free".

The Pocket Surfer 2's specifications aren't known, but the first version of the device, currently available to buy in Canada and the US, is a clamshell gadget with a 640 x 240 colour display and a QWERTY keypad and cursor control built into the screen cover. The device measures 13.8 x 6.9 x 1.5cm and weighs 96.4g.

DataWind pitches the price of the hardware low - just $200 for the device - but it also requires a $10 monthly fee for the company's internet connectivity service. You can skip the regular payment with a one-off device purchase of $300.

DataWind's USP as an ISP is its server-side data compression, which it claims significantly reduces the the amount of data it sends out to the handheld. It claims that "a customer can easily save over 200MB in bandwidth with the DataWind solution, in 20 hours of usage over a month - which could result in $20-80 in carrier data charges".

Time to ditch your smart phone, then? Well, no, not quite. Pocket Surfer has no cellular connectivity of its own, relying instead on a Bluetooth link to your phone.

Whether the Pocket Surfer 2 takes the same approach remains to be seen - we'll find out next week. And it's going to be interesting to see how DataWind justifies its claim that it can provide internet access for free.


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