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Laptops

FlyBook V33i HSDPA: Frustration at your fingertips

This stylish convertible laptop gives you broadband Internet access wherever there's a 3G phone signal, but it'll cost ya

Dialogue isn't the biggest name in the laptop world, but tech-heads absolutely love the Taiwanese company's FlyBook series. We've just been sent the FlyBook V33i HSDPA, which as the name suggests comes with a high-speed downlink packet access module and SIM card that gives you broadband (1.8Mbps) Internet access wherever there's a 3G mobile signal.

Physically, it's nearly identical to the standard V33i, which means it's gorgeous to look at but damn-near unusable in many respects. We love the almost dirty-looking matte-red finish, and its ultra-petite dimensions (it's a couple of inches longer than a standard paperback book), plus the funky 8.9-inch 1,024x600-pixel display, but what on Earth was Dialogue thinking with that keyboard?

The keys are so closely spaced you'd need the fingers of a 3-year-old to achieve a decent typing speed. We tried typing this very blog entry on the FlyBook, and here's a brief extract of how far we got before we abandoned it: "dialguier msy nmiot be ined nofd ntghern biggeswtg nsames ikn the lksptolp weolrld, but..." Pretty accurate, then. 

Thankfully the V33i HSDPA is a 'convertible' laptop, meaning it can operate in tablet mode. Simply spin the screen clockwise 180 degrees then lay it flat against the keyboard and it turns into a Tablet PC. For some reason Dialogue hasn't bothered installing Windows XP Tablet Edition -- you get Pro instead. As a result you don't get Microsoft's own fancy handwriting recognition software, but the bundled EverNote software works pretty well.

The FlyBook V33i HSDPA uses a 1.1GHz Pentium M CPU, 512MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive. It'll set you back a frankly ridiculous £2,075. -RR