It can be quite easy to rack up hefty Internet and data download charges on a mobile phone, and on top of that the time taken to pull up web pages can be slow at times as well. A Canadian company called DataWind claims to address these issues with its new Pocket Surfer 2 portable-Internet device – which is now distributing through Perth-based ISP Eftel.
The Pocket Surfer 2 is a slim, PDA-style device which has an inbuilt Vodafone SIM card and GPRS. It is designed to allow you to surf the Internet quickly (no phone calls). According to DataWind VP of Sales, Derek Kopke, this is achieved by means of a compression algorithm. So when you type in a website, it connects to the company’s server in Canada, which in turn takes a snapshot of the website’s information and sends this back to the device.
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“For example, it will turn the SMH website, which can be slow to pull up, as it is about 1.2MB in size into about 38KB. Everyone talks about how fast Telstra Next G is, but in some cases the Pocket Surfer 2 is faster,” he said.
The Pocket Surfer 2 is the company’s first foray into the pocket computer space, after the launch of the original Pocket Surfer two years ago. DataWind has a background in scanners and printers.
The product will enjoy distribution through Dick Smith, but according to Kopke there are various other retailers looking to sign on in 2008.
The other benefit is cost, says Kopke. The $399 price for the device covers 20 hours of Internet surfing time per month for the first year. Or if you need more time, you can pay about $20 for unlimited access per month. After the first year, the company is looking at an upfront usage fee of $50 for the year, though Kopke says they are aiming to make it zero.
“Unless you’re using a laptop, no other mobile product can surf the Internet so easily – it is too slow and very expensive. Australians want a desktop experience on the go, and the country has a high percentage of people using the Internet, but people are also paying one of the highest rates in the world for it.
“We may not be a well-known company in terms of branding, but our product delivers a great user experience [for online surfing], and for free. It is also supported by mass retailer Dick Smith,” said Kopke.
The Pocket Surfer 2 has additional features, such as 25GB of online storage, remote access to a desktop and an email client.
The product is the successor to the Pocket Surfer 1, which was more like a Bluetooth accessory, and, Kopke admitted, was a hard retail sale.
“But we put the lessons learned from that into this new device, and we believe it is now a very easy retail sale.”