How do you bring internet to places where there’s no infrastructure for it? Vodafone thinks its got the answer with the Webbox, a keyboard “computer” that will use the more ubiquitous cellphone networks to get people online.
Designed for emerging markets where internet access isn’t commonplace, the device can hop on to any 2.5G or EDGE network for data access. It won’t require purchase of a monitor either — just plug it to any TV (yes, it can work on old CRT boxes with RCA inputs) and you’re instantly connected to the cesspool of content that is the world wide web.
The Webbox is, basically, a smart QWERTY keyboard with cellphone hardware crammed inside. The whole thing measures 9.8 x 5.5 inches (with internal removable battery in tow), allowing you to freely move it around the house. A 2GB SD card is preloaded.
Once connected to a TV and turned on, an Opera Mini browser pops up on the TV screen and allows you to access the internet like on a regular cellphone. Since it’s essentially a phone with an external display, you get to access stuff like messages, media and apps, too.
Suffice to say, the Webbox is a clever solution to an existing problem. Not only does it allow for internet access (despite probably being very slow) in erstwhile inaccessible areas, you can skip buying an expensive computer to get online, too. It’s currently available in South Africa, with a prepaid SIM and 100MB of data for starters, priced at 749 Rand (around $100).