A Look at 3
Obviously believing that this fear of having no mobile connectivity should be consigned to yesterday's dustbin, the mobile media company 3 has promised a number of new products and initiatives that will be relieve this complaint. Over the coming months we can expect to see a variety of items being released by 3 that have been developed to add functionality to our mobile connectivity existence.
As an old friend of mine, it does seem appropriate to begin with the Skypephone. You may remember that I reviewed this product in May (you can read that review here). Expected imminently is the new model which, not surprisingly, is named the Skypephone S2. Measuring 103 x 45 x 14mm and featuring a 2.2-inch QVGA screen, this phone allows you to make free Skype to Skype calls and Skype Chat to anywhere in the world without the need of a computer.
With 50MB of onboard memory and support for Micro SD cards, the phone will be available in black (a far more sensible choice than the blue and white offering with the previous version) and has a 3.2 megapixel camera. A more intuitive menu system and the ability to plug the phone into your notebook to provide modem facilities are also included. The Skypephone S2 is expected to be available free of charge with a Mix and Match contract or sub £70 on pay as you go.
Once upon a time, dongles were regarded as anti-piracy devices used by certain products. The dongle (a physical attachment) had to be in position before you could run the software. Nowadays other methods are used to ensure that the illegal copying of software is reduced. 3, however, feels that the term dongles can serve another purpose by providing the means to add features to notebook computers. One example is the Skypephone which provides modem facilities when used as a dongle on your notebook.
3 will also be offering dongles that could easily be mistaken for your standard USB stick devices. Currently two model types, the Huawei E169G and Huawei E160G, will be available to provide Internet connectivity. There will be a variety of shapes, sizes and colours with different transfer rate speeds plus at least one model will support the use of a Micro SD card. Pricing is expected to be set at £99.99 with pay as you go, £49.99 on a 12 month 1GB contract or free on other contracts.
À la Carphone Warehouse-style, 3 will be also offering its dongle facility bundled with various HP notebooks. In order to take advantage of this offer you will need to sign up for a minimum 24-month contract. A couple of examples that will be available with this scheme are a HP530 laptop with 5GB data allowance plus 150 texts and a dongle at £30 per month or the HP2133 mini-notebook UMPC with 5GB of data allowance, 200 texts plus the dongle at £35 per month.
Taking Broadband with you on your travels is the service offered by Mobile Broadband Starter Kits from 3. There will be three (naturally) starter kits covering various periods of time and data allowances. For those with minimal requirements you can have 3GB of data valid for up to 3 months at a cost of £69.99. Moving up a stage, 12GB of data valid for up to 12 months is priced at £149.99. Heavy users might prefer the top of the range offering with 24GB of data valid for up to 24 months and costing £249.99. In each case an E160G dongle modem is included plus web surfing hours, emails, downloaded music tracks and videos with the number depending upon the chosen package. For example the 24GB offering allows 800 hours web surfing, 1600 emails, 1600 downloaded music tracks and 800 videos.
3 is offering various Internet-based services as you access your emails and surf the web from your mobile device. Using the Nokia E71 (immediately) or BlackBerry Bold (expected in November) you can have access to unlimited consumer email and 10MB of data for £2.50 per month or for a £5.00 tariff the email can be both consumer and work-orientated plus 1GB of data. For access to the Mobile Internet, 3 will be launching a software service that will automatically present websites as you would expect to see them on a computer. This service will be available on the Samsung Tocco and Nokia N96 on either a £2.50 monthly contract with 10MB of data or £5.00 monthly for 1GB of data.
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