UK company Datawind makes a handheld internet device called the PocketSurfer with a 640 x 240 pixel display and a GPRS modem for always available internet connections. What makes the company’s business model unique is that users can surf for up to 20 hours per month for free for the first year. An additional year of service will cost £40, and you can get unlimited access for £5.99 per month. It’s not a blazing fast 3G connection, but it is cheap.
Now it looks like the company is preparing to release a full sized netbook with a larger, higher resolution display and a touch-typable keyboard. There’s not a lot of information available at the moment about the specs. I don’t know what kind of processor it will use, how much storage, or even what size the display will be. But if the goal is to compete with other netbooks, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that we’ll see a device with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU and an 8.9 inch or 10.2 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display.
And like the current PocketSurfer line of handhelds, Datawind plans to offer limited internet access without a contract or a monthly bill. Datawind’s netbook should be out early next year.