Last night PC Retail went to the worldwide launch of Canadian company, Datawind's PocketSurfer2 – a peripheral for mobile phones which allows high speed Internet browsing on a clamshell device with full QWERTY input – with no contracts and no cost other than the cost of data used by your mobile phone.
The product, which is being distributed in the UK by Widget, works by connecting to the Internet via a regular GPRS, but offers speeds comparable to HSDPA, or 3.5G as it is sometime known.
Indeed, many of the demonstrations highlighted the fact with the most striking being a comparison between the PocketSurfer2 and the iPhone, with the iPhone taking over three minutes to load the eBay site while the PocketSurfer2 easily coped with eBay.
It then moved onto the National Rail website which is well known for being slow on mobile devices, even on 3G, yet loaded it with five to seven seconds. Not as fast as a desktop but massively faster than any other mobile Internet device to date.
Some at the event were positive about company's decision to split the product into two markets with the consumer model being handled by one company and the business model being handled by another.
Indeed, while the business model was being aimed squarely as a device to complement the use of a Blackberry – a device which the Canadian trade commissioner was keen to point out was another Canadian product – the consumer model was the one that excited much of the channel that was in attendance with different colours and pre-installed programs promised.
One of the device's major selling points is it's compatibility with services such as MSN Messenger and full website functionality with sites such as MySpace and Facebook – something that Datawind was keen to push as no-other phone to its knowledge can achieve the same.
Many at the event including investment firms and channel representatives were excited the product's potential, however, many erred on the side of caution warning that an RRP of £180 may be a bit pricy for some customers and that it's success would largely depend on how it was marketed.
Further coverage of this launch will be in the August issue of PC Retail magazine.