By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
CellStar will launch a wireless Internet appliance and service that is said to speed up Web browsing over cellular networks and delivers a Web page's original layout and graphics without the use of bulkier laptop computers.
In contrast, cellular smartphones and most PDA-phones reformat Web pages to appear on smaller, portrait-style screens.
The checkbook-size PocketSurfer, due in the third quarter, will be the first CellStar-built product for the cellular distributor and logistics company.
PocketSurfer features a widescreen 640 by 240-pixel color display and foldout QWERTY keyboard. It connects via Bluetooth to any Bluetooth-equipped wireless phone to download and display standard graphics-intensive Web pages.
The display's width makes it unnecessary to scroll from left to right to view a page, although users must still scroll down to view all of the contents of a page.
CellStar will begin selling the device in the third quarter at an expected suggested $199 to carriers, retailers, and agents. When closed, it is 5.98 by 2.97 by 0.58 inches in size. It weighs 5.9 ounces.
To access the Web, users subscribe to a $9/month CellStar service that uses proprietary compression technology to download a full Web page in as little as seven seconds, the company said. The service will compress 250,000 bits into 200 bits, accelerating the typical download rates of 2G, 2.5G, and 3G technologies. "We're faster because the pipe is the same, but we're sending fewer bits through the pipe," said a spokesman.
A laptop equipped with a CDMA 1X PC card, he said, would download a Web page in 24 to 48 seconds, while a 1X-connected PocketSurfer would download that page in seven to 10 seconds, he said. Full-motion video, however, is displayed as a slide show refreshed every four seconds.
The device's browser also provides access to POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail accounts. Its internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery delivers four to six hours of active Web browsing.
Datawind Net Access Corp. of Montreal developed the device, CellStar said.
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