When we decided last year to invest in a static caravan at the seaside one of the things that I knew I would miss from home would be my computer. I have a desktop PC at home and spend the majority of my spare time online and although I didn't want to spend all my time online whilst away from home I knew that I would miss it. Budgetary restrictions and the fact the area in which my caravan is in did not have a strong enough 3G signal to allow a Laptop to connect to the internet meant that I had to look at other options to get myself online.
Whilst flicking through the Freeview channels at home I stumbled across the home shopping channel - Ideal World- and the presentation at the time was for the Datawind Pocketsurfer 2. Described as being "The internet in the palm of your hand" the Pocketsurfer connects to the Vodafone GPRS signal and gives you access to HTML pages of the internet the same as any laptop or PC. Fully portable and wireless the demonstrations showed how easy it appeared to connect to the internet and although page load times were slightly slower than a broadband connection it seemed like a cheap and cheerful way to get connected online and allow me to browse my favourite sites whilst away from home. The price of the device was offered at £129.99 and this included unlimited access to the internet for 3 months when it would then drop to 20 hours per month for the remaining 9 months. After 12 months there would be a one off charge again of £40.00 to get full unrestricted access for the rest of the devices' life. Seeming a good offer and giving me the chance to stay connected to the internet whilst away from home I placed an order and 5 days later I had my PocketSurfer 2.
First impressions when I took the device out of the box were good. It had a sleek, black, glossy design and held comfortably in my hands. The top is hinged to the base and lifts up to reveal a full backlit QWERTY keyboard and whilst the keypad isn't the same as that of a laptop or PC the keys are designed similarly to that of a mobile phone keypad when texting and when the device is held between your hands your thumbs instinctively do the typing. Weighing in at just 174 grams it isn't overly heavy or cumbersome and the claims of the device being fully portable are true.
Being completely wireless there is no separate mouse, but again similar to a laptop there is a mousepad from which you can control the cursor and is easy enough to get used to although is a bit fiddly to begin with.
Datawind had already set up the device ready to start, the Sim card was in place and it was just a case of charging up the machine the same as you would a mobile phone before switching on. When charged the machine sprang into life and the 640x240 colour widescreen display loaded up the registration page and requested some information to be completed. This successfully navigated it was just a case of then connecting to the GPRS signal and the Internet awaited.
Now all this sounds good, and I was looking forward to being able to stay online but the actual practical experience of using the device leaves a lot to be desired. Despite its sleek appearance and portable nature the machine isn't all that well put together and manufacturing flaws are evident on the device. The hinges don't sit exactly flush and the keypad itself looks and feels flimsy and cheap, the screen although much larger than a mobile phone display does not display a whole page of the internet and you are forever scrolling left, right, up and down to fully read a page.
Getting connected to the GPRS signal is very much hit and miss and even when connected the advertised 5-7 second page load time is extremely optimistic with the reality being a page taking between 10 and 20 seconds to load. This may not sound a long time, and to be fair it isn't, but when you are used to instantaneous page loads with broadband connection at home the waiting around for a webpage to load on a PocketSurfer is both tedious and frustrating. Even the full colour screen is in reality dull and unclear and because of how the information is transferred to the device by relay from Datawind the webpages seldom fully load with some data missing.
The battery in the device does not keep its charge for long at all, and normally after 30-40 minutes usage the warning light starts to flash so you have to plug it back into the mains to be able to keep up and running, so the claims that you can surf the net anytime, anywhere are technically true, the reality is that you can but only for half an hour.
I have to admit to being disappointed by the PocketSurfer, I had read reviews before buying one and had seen similar complaints being made by other people but put those down to them just being overly picky. After all the machine never claimed to be as fast, bright or as powerful as a desktop PC or a laptop it was simply a web-browser and that was all I wanted, however the reality is that what could have been a great bit of kit is in fact a massive let down.
I did give it a really good chance as well, persevering with it for a good 3 months before admitting defeat. Frustration and disappointment won through and in the end I bought a laptop to take with me to the coast. Thankfully that does manage to grab hold of a signal strong enough to enable me to get online and does give me exactly what I want when it comes to the internet experience.
The Pocketsurfer 2 is still available to buy online, but is cheaper now than it was when I bought it with prices starting from £92.00; for this price you now get the device plus unlimited access to the internet for 12 months before having to pay a one off charge of £59.99 to get a lifetime's unlimited usage. I seriously doubt though that anyone would manage to put up with the frustration that comes with this and I certainly wouldn't recommend anyone to get one.
An extremely poor 1/5 Dooyoo star rating from me for all the reasons stated above, save your money and invest in a cheap laptop and don't bother with this. It was an expensive mistake that I hugely regret and is now sat in a drawer gathering dust. Disappointing.
Thank you for reading.