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Index : Equipment Reviews and Features : Pocket Surfer 2 - by Beatsworking

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Pocket Surfer 2

PocketSurfer2 is an ultra-thin hand-held device that fits easily into a pocket or bag and delivers the real web, just like at home or at work. Weighing in at just 174 grams the PocketSurfer2 allows users to browse the web in its original layout on a 640x240 full colour widescreen display using a mouse cursor and a full backlit QWERTY keyboard making it the most usable portable web device around. With page-load times of under 7 seconds, you'll be flying around the web. Furthermore, there is no contract, no monthly fee, and no activation charge, which means the mobile Internet is absolutely FREE!
This is a product review by UKCampsite.co.uk member Beatsworking

Having used the PS2 for over a month I am now pleased to give you my feedback and verdict on its suitability for use by members of UKCampsite.co.uk who do not have a laptop and internet access when away from home. Although I will give a summary of my thoughts and experiences at the end, I would say straightaway that I have found the PS2 easy to operate and very useful when away from home.

Obviously, detailed specifications are available elsewhere such as www.pocketsurfer.co.uk <http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/redirect.asp?redir=http://www.pocketsurfer.co.uk so I am not going to list all the features here. Also, there are several ‘laboratory type’ reviews which describe the use of the PS2 but these have not been of a hands-on nature so I hope that my comments will be useful.

The unit looks very stylish and well made and is approximately 6” x 3” x ½” so little bigger than a PDA or large mobile and is light and slips very easily into one’s pocket. It is totally ‘self-contained’ so there are no leads or dongles to worry about. In practice, I have carried the PS2 around with me whilst walking and cycling without knowing that it was there, apart from the feeling of satisfaction that I had knowing that I could access the internet or emails at any time and anywhere. The system relies upon the “3” mobile network but coverage for the service is now very good across the UK and I did not suffer any problems of poor reception.

Right, knowing where to start is a bit of a problem so my following comments are not in any particular order.

When I took the PS2 over it had already been set-up but reading the manual shows how easy it will be for the owner of a new one. I normally ignore the instruction manuals that come with new products and try to set them up using logic (not always successfully!) but I must say that a good read of the manuals, both paper and on the PC, was necessary to use the PS2 to its full advantage but then that is what the designers and writers are paid for.

After switching on and pressing the arrow key, the system quickly logged on verifying the username and password and coming up with the home page which comprises three options, the internet, emails, and GPS position and maps. The screen size in turn determines the text size which I must admit for my aging eyes was a bit small and I had to wear my reading glasses but, hey ho, I need them for reading newspapers. The resolution of the screen also means that the contrast is a lot less than one would have on a laptop but the settings are easily changed and I was able to find suitable brightness to cover most conditions outside except in bright sunlight. I do not own a laptop but would expect that they are also less that perfect in bright conditions. The QWERTY keyboard is very easy to use once one has got used to typing with thumbs, yes, that was really the easiest way to type, and the keys are backlit which is a
great help. The side function buttons are a bit more fiddly but since they are not being used constantly I did not find that a problem and the whole experience of typing was far better than trying to send a text on my mobile.

Internet Access

To get onto a website simply requires the address to be typed in and a single press of the ‘Go’ or ‘Enter’ key. Pages appeared very quickly. The sales blurb suggests a 7 second access time as the norm but, although I didn’t time pages, I would say that generally they downloaded more quickly. Again the screen size limits the amount of information that can appear but moving around the page was simple and fast using the cursor keys.

I have used the PS2 to access UKCampsite.co.uk and found it very useful in finding suitable campsites whilst away on an unplanned trip and it has been great using weather forecast websites to keep an eye on the weather. Obviously I have visited many websites which it would be pointless to list but it is worth noting that I have accessed my on-line banking and credit card sites without any problems and, since everything is through a large commercial server rather than one’s own PC, I believe that the PS2 is far more secure as it is not possible to get caught by spyware or hackers.

Emails

Setting up email accounts is a simple matter and I sent and received emails through several of my accounts but, to be honest, I mainly accessed my emails direct off the servers using mail2web and a similar access route. This enabled me to read and send mail whilst leaving them on the server to download to my PC when I returned home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GPS Functions

The PS2 knows exactly where it is at all times using the GPS system and to show one’s location on the map it is simply necessary to click on the location button – no surprise there I suppose. The location is, by default, shown on a normal map but it is possible to switch to a satellite or hybrid view which is surprising clear for a small screen and zooming in bought up great images. The views of the camping field and showground at last weekend’s UKCampsite.co.uk Elvaston Steam Rally Meet was spot on! Route planning is also available which will be a very useful function to members.

Summary

In general I found the PS2 very easy and satisfying to use and the battery life was very good and lasted many hours before needing a recharge. I bought a car charger to allow me to charge it up in the caravan and I never suffered a flat battery. Once one has played around with the brightness control the screen was readable in the vast majority of conditions apart from really bright direct sunlight. Typing was easy and fast having mastered the 2 thumb technique. Web page access was acceptably fast and scrolling around the pages was no problem. I did find it frustrating that previously typed words were not retained for
speedier input but this is a pocket machine rather than a fully featured laptop or PC.

Perhaps it is a sad world that we now live in with so many of us feeling the need to access the internet and emails away from home but the PS2 certainly satisfied my cravings and, in deed, saved me a lot of phone calls and money when finding new campsites on UKCampsite.co.uk.

I have demonstrated the PS2 to several other members who have been very impressed and I know that at least 2 have already purchased their own machines.

I understand that the list price is £180 but it is available from around £150 and this includes 20 hours on internet access a month for the first year. This is the whole package, machine and access! I thought that I had used the PS2 a fair bit but I have been well within the 20 hour limit which, in any event, can be upgraded to unlimited access for £5.99 per month. At the end of the year, a further 12 months access costs only £40 for 20 hours per month. I am sure that if I used a laptop and mobile service to access the internet it would cost more than this and I would have to buy the laptop in the first place!

All in all, I was impressed by the PocketSurfer2 and will continue to show it off to other members who I am sure will be queuing up to buy one.

Where can I get one from?

You can view more information and a list of stockists from the Pocket Surfer Website


Index : Equipment Reviews and Features : Pocket Surfer 2 - by Beatsworking



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