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Laptops

3's 3G datacard: Laptop it up

3 claims to have better 3G coverage than any other network in the UK -- a major selling point for its new datacard. It also has HSDPA up its sleeve and we can't wait

Have you ever thought that browsing the Web on a mobile phone is about as simple as reading a book on the other side of a room with a pair of binoculars? For all its hype, mobile Web access just isn't as good as we thought it was going to be. You can't see pictures properly, you can't write emails as easily as on a full keyboard and on some networks you can't even browse what you want to, without re-mortgaging the house to pay for the extra download capacity.

Luckily for those of you who really do need a decent mobile Internet solution, you could always try a 3G datacard with your laptop. This allows you to browse the Web on your laptop up to four times faster than with a GPRS data card, and seven times faster than a standard 56k modem, almost anywhere in the UK.

The 3 network has just brought out a 3G datacard, which they claim has better 3G coverage than any other network in the UK. The card costs from £39.99 to £119.99, and the more you pay for the card the less you'll have to pay for the monthly charges. If you pay £119.99 for the 3G datacard, you get 100MB inclusive data every month for the humble cost of only £20.

But 100MB a month isn't a lot if you're planning on downloading MP3s or surfing the Web on a regular basis. However, if you're going to use it so you can send and receive emails and visit the odd Web site, which is exactly what a card like this should be used for, then you won't run into any major problems.

What's really exciting is that aside from releasing a 3G datacard, 3 has also been developing HSDPA, or High Speed Downlink Packet Access. This is basically an upgraded version of 3G, a Super 3G if you like, and it's going to be available in selected urban areas some time this year. Soon you'll be able to download data on to your mobile or laptop over three times faster than on 3G -- that's faster than some broadband connections. -AL