PocketSurfer 2 Promises Internet Anywhere

At this year’s 3GSM conference in Barcelona, DataWind took the wraps off its PocketSurfer 2, which the company claims to be the world’s fastest handheld Internet device, taking just 7 to 9 second to load a typical Web page. DataWind says the PocketSurfer 2 offers the full “graphical intensity” of using the Web on a desktop PC, with no restrictions on productivity or access to any Web site or Web-enabled application.

“With PocketSurfer, mobile users can surf the Internet anytime, anyplace and enjoy the same rich media graphics and browser functionality of the desktop experience!” enthused Suneet S. Tuli, CEO of DataWind. “This device is going to revolutionize the way we work, play communicate and fully leverage the web wirelessly.”

Reactions to the original PocketSurfer—announced in 2004 and available in 2005—were generally positive, perhaps criticizing its interface while lauding its internet capabilities. However, most users wondered how they could justify carrying a separate device just for mobile Internet surfing—wouldn’t the PocketSurfer’s functionality work better integrated with a smartphone, or at least a PDA?

The PocketSurfer 2 doesn’t really address these concerns, although it does sport a number of refinements over the original model, including a slimmer form factor and a backlit QWERTY keyboard, along with a completely integrated cellular modem. Part of the PocketSurfer’s speed comes from compressing page data transmitted to the PocketSurfer units down to as little as 1/30th the size of the original page, so Web pages load faster because the wireless network bears a smaller traffic burden. And, because it doesn’t offer all the features of a smartphone, it ought to be considerably cheaper than a smartphone: pricing details haven’t been announced, but the original version of the PocketSurfer was available for about $200.

The PocketSurfer 2 will also feature free wireless Internet service when it’s launched in the U.K. “this spring,” which might be a compelling feature: mobile Internet without phone or PDA capabilities is one thing&hellp;but mobile Internet without data charges might be something else entirely. However, there’s no word when (or if) the PocketSurfer 2 might reach the U.S. market.

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