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PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 August, 2009, 12:00am

Going online through an iPhone or BlackBerry is a step up from searching for an internet cafe when you're on the move but both devices suffer from slow speeds and can cause eye strain. Now, however, help is at hand.

Domestic mobile network operator SmarTone-Vodafone, part of British giant Vodafone's global network, has introduced the Vitesse, a new mini-notebook with a built-in mobile broadband connection that is 3.5G network-ready and has the same access capabilities as a top-tier smartphone.

Few netbooks come with an embedded 3G module for mobile broadband connection. Most 3G network operators provide subscribers with a USB modem as the sole means to connect their laptop computer to cellular networks. The Vitesse's built-in 3.5G capability allows for download speeds of up to 7.2 megabits per second and uploads of up to 5.76Mbps anywhere in Hong Kong, although users must subscribe to a mobile broadband package that is exclusive to the city. Under a two-year, HK$318-a-month plan from SmarTone-Vodafone, users get the Vitesse with unlimited data usage in Hong Kong and a one-year warranty.

In a field test, the device scored style points for its light weight and slim profile (about 32mm thick).

SmarTone-Vodafone did some tweaking to get the fastest possible start-up and shutdown times with the machine's Windows XP home operating system. Connection was seamless while travelling on a ferry and a bus, save for a couple of dead spots where the network signal dropped. The Vitesse, which weighs less than 1kg, comes with a portable slip case and is made by Quanta Computer, the Taiwan contract manufacturer that designs and builds laptop models for Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, Sharp and Fujitsu.

The notebook runs Intel's Atom processor and has a 10.1-inch display, one gigabyte of memory, a 16GB solid-state drive, Wi-fi support, a stereo speaker and internal microphone, webcam and memory card reader. The battery gives four hours of use on a full charge. Software applications are limited to Adobe Acrobat reader 9.0 and Open Office 3.1.

Without a SmarTone-Vodaphone package the Vitesse is priced at HK$3,480, which is less expensive than Nokia's HK$5,480 N97 or Apple's HK$5,388 iPhone 3GS.