Getting online when you’re away from home means relying either upon a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot or 3G mobile internet — neither of which are a sure thing once you step outside metropolitan areas. Still, if 3G is your thing and you don’t fancy paying for a separate mobile data contract for use with a laptop, the Datawind UbiSurfer 9 3G might suit.

This compact laptop with a 9” screen costs £180 and comes with a number of productivity applications pre-installed. The real attraction, however, is that it has a 3G modem built in and the purchase price includes “one year’s free 3G internet access” in the UK.

As you might expect, there’s some small print attached to this deal and the UbiSurfer 9 3G actual supplies 1,800 free minutes (30 hours) of internet access each month on the Vodafone network. Charges for the second year of use are reckoned to be about £30, while data roaming for Europe and the USA are 5p per minute.

The UbiSurfer 9 3G’s small size makes it an ideal travelling companion, but the low-resolution screen (800 x 480) and Windows CE operating system make ill suited for anything much beyond web browsing and email use — as does the meagre 1GB of storage space.

Battery life is reckoned to be a mere three hours too, but take that figure with a pinch of salt — real-word battery figures for any portable computer are almost always lower than those quoted by the manufacturer.

We’re hoping to review the Datawind UbiSurfer 9 3G soon to give you a better impression of its capabilities and until then, it’s available from various shopping channels and online stores — it’s £180 + P&P at IdealWorld.

We should point out that other Datawind devices we have seen didn’t have the best build quality though, so until we can get our hands on a UbiSurfer 9 3G to review, it’s a case of caveat emptier for now…

[Datawind UbiSurfer 9 3G]