Carphone’s new, free ultralight laptop (“Webbook”) offering

Just a week after the iPhone 3G hit the streets, Carphone Warehouse, one of the UK’s biggest mobile phone retailers has launched a new product by the name of Webbook.

Fwd: Webbook

It is, Carphone tells me, the world’s first 10.2″ notebook of it’s kind. Made by Elonex Technology, the device weighs just 1.3kg (the Apple Air is 1.36kg) and boasts:

– Integrated WiFi (one assumes 802.11b… maybe G)
– 3 USB pots
– 512mb RAM
– Built-in memory card readers
– 84 key QWERTY
– 2GB solid state flash memory or 80GB standard HD
– 2.5 hours battery

Now here’s the interesting bit for the geeks. Oh yes. It’ll apparently run either Windows XP or Linux. Though I don’t think there will be that many normobs clamoring for a Linux version. Me, I like the idea of a Linux-powered device that won’t arse up every five minutes.

The Webbook is strictly UMPC territory. Don’t expect the earth with it. It’s web-on-the-move style.

Here’s the standard offering from the Carphone Warehouse site:

Picture 11

I haven’t been able to find the actual model that offers 2GB of flash memory rather than a hard disk. I’ll talk to Carphone.

If you’d like the standard Webbook unit, it’ll cost you £249 smackers. It’s obviously ‘free’ on a contract — the quoted example above being 25 quid a month for 24 months (576 pounds in total) with an Orange mobile broadband contract.

If the Webbook isn’t really floating your boat but you’d still like a free-ish laptop for the sitting room and you can afford 25 pounds a month, then Carphone would still like to talk to you. They’re offering three different types of Toshiba as well, along with a Fujitsu and an Acer. The top of the range Toshiba tops out with 200GB of hard disk space, Intel Core2 Duo processors, 3GB of ram, 4 hour battery, DVDRW, 13.3″ widescreen, Windows Vista and 1.99kg weight. (You can have this one for 19.99 per month if you take out a 24 month TalkTalk or AOL Broadband subscription and stump up a one time fee of 249.99 pounds. Not bad!)

I’ve always been in favour of this kind of offer. I know quite a few people who’ve got laptops this way.

As a geek used to spunking over 500 pounds on a new phone, it’s often difficult to remember that for your average chap on the street doesn’t necessarily have a laptop or computer of their own. I like that the subsidy model has been extended to laptops — it works, I think. 20-25 pounds a month is a lot more manageable than spending 500 pounds up-front.

So will you be getting a Webbook?

I say take a look. Pop into Carphone and have a browse. I’m going to see if we can get a trial unit from them and have a play. It could well be a useful addition to your living room, study, wife, girlfriend or granny. Especially if you’re thinking of getting a mobile broadband connection anyway. Why not get yourself a free laptop with the dongle!

More information here.

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