R380 looks nice, but WAP browsing is a different story

Ericsson launches its long-awaited, WAP-enabled R380 mobile phone; what happens when you try to go and surf WAP sites is something else altogether.

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By  David Ingham Published  October 24, 2000

Ericsson yesterday took the wraps off its long awaited R380 mobile phone, but it wasn't all plain sailing as slow infrastructure undermined live attempts to dial into WAP content sites.

The R380 is one of the industry's latest efforts to design a mobile phone that can also double up as a wireless Internet access device. Ericsson's approach is to turn the keypad into a swinging door that opens to reveal a screen that's virtually the full length of the phone — a lot better for viewing text-based WAP pages than the 1" by 2" screens of most mobiles.

So far, so good on the hardware side. When Ericsson executives actually tried to dial into a couple of WAP content sites, the connection timed out after just over a minute of trying to establish contact.

What that shows is that today's 9.6 kbits/s GSM networks just aren't fast enough to enable people to comfortably surf the wireless equivalent of the World Wide Web.

That's why it was probably very sensible for Ericsson to say (when pressed by itp.net) that the R380 is a phone first and foremost, and a wireless Internet access device second. Even putting WAP aside, the large screen is still going to come in useful when you're using the R380's personal organiser functionality.

The R380 is an interesting attempt to combine a phone, PDA and Internet access device in a single unit. But until the transport network speeds up, expect to see rather a lot of those 'timed out' messages when you attempt to surf the wireless Internet.

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