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Laptops

Acer TravelMate 4260: Internet-anywhere 3G laptop

Fed up of being chained to a coffee shop for on-the-road Internet access? Get online anywhere, anytime through the magic of built-in 3G

Wi-Fi hotspots are great if you like sipping overpriced mochas from faceless coffee shops, but what if you're nowhere near a Starbucks? Until recently your best bet was to camp outside someone's garden trying to hijack their unsecured wireless network, all the while running the risk of looking like a sex pest.

Until now, that is. Acer recently sent us its TravelMate 4260 -- one of a new breed of laptop that lets you get online from anywhere. Tucked away beneath its battery is a 3G SIM card that enables full WWAN connectivity through tri-band GPRS/EDGE at 900, 1800, 1900 or 2100MHz, which means it will work in any region that has a GSM network.

In other words, the laptop can get on the Internet from anywhere, as long as there's a phone signal. Is this the best thing ever? Well, yes -- not least because it stops you hanging out on strangers' lawns or blowing all your hard-earned cash on iced lattes.

Prices for 3G access start at £25 per month with a 250MB download cap, £45 per month with a 1GB 'fair usage' cap, or £95 per month to download as much as you want.

Things become much more expensive if you use it from abroad, however. If you connect to the Internet using a Vodafone-preferred network it'll cost you £3.50 per MB. If you use any Tom, Dick or Harry network it'll set you back £8.75 per MB. What a rip-off.

The TravelMate 4260 has a 15-inch screen, a 1.66GHz Core Duo CPU, 1GB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive and it's available now for around £1,000. -RR