Japan has long had a reputation for being on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, so one might expect that the country would be blanketed with open wireless for everyone. Therefore, many travelers are surprised to find that public WiFi is scarce, and that those who want mobile internet usually have to dish out for a for a monthly plan. E Mobile has been providing popular pocket WiFi solutions for some time, but the company's latest is an intriguing piece of hardware.

Running Android 2.2, the new Pocket WiFi S is a two-in-one combo: a wireless router and smartphone hybrid. Retailing for a paltry 19800 yen (about $US235), this combo device will feature an unlimited data plan for as low as 4280 yen per month (or about $50).

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Here are some of the specifications of the Pocket Wifi S:

SpecificationDetails MemoryRAM 256MB, ROM 512MB Display2.8 inches, capacitive touchscreen, 240x320 WVGA HSPA / W-CDMA1700MHz/2100MHz GSM850MHz/900MHz / 1800MHz/1900MHz Wireless LANIEEE802.11b/g/n Compliance Max. simultaneous connectionsFive Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Camera3.2 megapixels External memorymicroSD/SDHC slot (up to 32GB)

So, while it's far from the most amazing phone in the world, this should appeal to a lot of users who want their phone and mobile wireless on a single data plan, rather than get hit in the pocket twice. All the essential smartphone functions are wrapped up in a pretty affordable package, including GPS capabilities and integration with all the regular Google services, as with all Android phones.

We won't have too long to wait for the Pocket WiFi S either, as E Mobile has scheduled its release for the middle of January.

A big thanks to our friends at Mobile in Japan for the hot tip on this one. For anyone with upcoming Japan travel plans, these guys also have a great post about the myriad of short term data options that can work for travelers.

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