Browse the internet with this small computer
Netbooks – mini-notebook PCs that are easily portable – can be great but even they can sometimes feel a little large.
The Datawind Ubisurfer is a mobile internet device that is smaller than a netbook but still manages to fit in a keyboard and a reasonably large screen.
It uses the very old Windows CE operating system, which used to be used for handheld computers but is now quite outdated. That said, it only took 14 seconds to start up and shutting it down was almost instant.
The very wide screen has a resolution of 800x480 pixels, enough for the basic tasks for which the Ubisurfer is intended, but it looked grainy compared to the sort of screens we’ve come to expect on netbooks and modern phones.
Unlike previous Datawind products, which were limited to browsing the web, the Ubisurfer can be used for more than that: it comes with Softmaker Office, which combines a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and email software. There is 1GB of storage space for documents which can be expanded using the SD memory card slot.
While it’s designed to work using the mobile phone network (it has a Sim card built in) it’s not wholly limited to that: it can be connected to a wired or wireless network.
Sadly the browser isn’t good. Websites are sent to the Ubisurfer via a server that compresses the pages. The resulting loss of image quality is acceptable when on the move but there was a significant delay when scrolling through documents.
One annoying niggle was that it didn’t obscure passwords when we typed them - not a problem in the office, but not good when on the train
Rather than limiting browsing by the amount of information transferred, the Ubisurfer comes with a usage allowance of 30 hours a month for a year. After that there’s an annual fee of £30.
At £150 the Ubisurfer is certainly cheaper than a netbook but its downsides are significant. If you can afford to pay more for a netbook or a decent smartphone, both of which can do more and give a better experience, that would be money well spent.
Does the job it claims to, but there’s really no point to it
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