Datawind Pocket Surfer 2

 

Datawind Pocket Surfer 2 mobile internet

Initial Impressions
The PocketSurfer is about 15cm long, half that wide and less than 2cm thick when closed which means most pockets will accommodate it fairly easily.

The keyboard is like the Motorola Razr – a flat plate with the letters cut out. No touch typing here. I found that it needed support in the centre either by hand or by resting on a surface or sometimes the keys in the middle didn’t register well – especially the space key in my case.

The screen is poor compared to a laptop – good enough for text but very washed out looking for pictures no matter how much you fiddle with the brightness and contrast.

The connection is via the Orange network and anywhere you can get an Orange signal, you can connect to the internet. I had few problems even in DigitalHam Towers which is an old stone built building well out of town.

There is a built in GPS unit and a dedicated key to show you your location on Google mapping. The top right of the display shows the number of satellites it is receiving in a circle (this isn’t mentioned in the documentation) but even with an apparently good lock this feature does not always work. Turning off and on again sometimes shows the updated position.

Web pages do load fast but often not the entire page – each time you wish to see more of a page you may get a delay. This may be caused by the way the device actually works. It is not a proper web browser which would retrieve and cache the entire page content from the website server; it is a device which displays whatever the intermediate Datawind server sends and it seems this can sometimes be only just enough to fill the section you can see on the
screen.

The battery is supposed to run the device for about 4 hours which is a lot less tha a mobile phone, but substantially better than most laptops. Unfortunately my device seems to have a bug whereby turning it off only puts it in sleep mode and many times I’ve turned it on only to find the battery flat. I bought it off eBay so there is no shop to go back to. I emailed DataWind support and there was no response but after using the support form on the website I got a reply saying return it to..

Service Centre
3 Bloomsbury Place
London
WC1A 2QA

with a covering letter. I will make absolutely sure that this isn’t my fault somehow before returning it as I’ve seen no other reports of the problem and it doesn’t happen every time.
Update Well now I know how to fix this problem – all you have to do is call support and the problem will disappear just as mysteriously as it appeared ???

Conclusion
So – is it any good? Well there is no hard and fast answer to that one. There are plenty of things to criticise – the keyboard and screen are poor for starters but it will give you access to the web on a half decently sized screen cheaply from a device you can carry around in your pocket.

I bought it mostly for remote access to my home PC to sort out problems with some applications I leave running 24×7. It will let you do that through LogMeIn – it’s pretty klunky but it does work. As it happens I’ve managed to fix most of the things that stopped those applications and the need for remote access has largely gone but I do still need to check and for that it is ideal.

If you expect this to be anywhere near as nice to use as a real PC at home you will be disappointed. For cheap and cheerful anytime, anywhere access to the internet it is great.

Now of course the technology has moved on and smart phones make this device pretty much obsolete.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.


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