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.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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

The trouble with getting a Windows version of one of these laptops is the updates. I'm currently typing this out on a Vista laptop that's been nowhere near DSL or a cable modem. From day one it's been hooked up to 3's mobile broadband and that alone. I have no idea how much has been downloaded as part of Windows (and associated programs) but we're talking hundreds of megs. Fortunately I'm trialling it and have unlimited data to play with and no scary bills to face.

You can buy a sub-notebook outright for less than 250 quid – and without signing up to a two-year contract. Google for the Asus eeePC, the Aspire One, etc etc.

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