Amstrad has launched a new version of its e-m@iler unit in the UK. The new addition add video calling into the mix of features that the unit offers. Costing around £99 or one or £179 for a pair Amstrad is hoping that the unit will take video calling at home away from the computer and into the mainstream.

To accommodate the video ability the e-m@iler now comes with a colour screen and built-in 480 x 320 camera (less than most webcams and mobile phones). While the unit boasts the convenience of not having to own a PC there are a number of costs and problems involved. You'll only be able to talk to other E3 owners on the system. Additionally although the unit boasts internet access, that access will be restricted to low graphic content sites, plus you will be bombarded with adverts to subsidise the cost of the emails that you still have to pay for.

Furthermore it that wasn't bad enough, you will feel the brunt of the player in the running costs. Email sessions (Amstrad however don't say how long this is for) will cost 15p plus the local call rate from your operator. Video Calls will set you back 50 pence per call, SMS will cost you 50p per message sent even though BT only charges 10p and surfing in the low graphic defined internet will cost 5p per minute.