Email Without PCs

As we said earlier when discussing the Wireless Web, not everybody has (or wants to learn how to use) a computer.

What if all you want to do is include Mom or your grandparents in the family email?

An Internet email appliance might just be the answer!

All this machine does is let you "type, send and receive" email.

Some email appliances also allow you to print out your email or send & receive faxes. An appliance after all, according to the dictionary, is a "device or instrument, esp. one operated by electricity and designed for household use". All email appliances require is electricity and access to the phone jack (for the built-in modem). These are not, in fact, toys and can send & receive email to & from any valid Internet email address, anywhere in the world.

There are various types of email appliances to choose from.

Mailstation (from CIDCO) is specially tailored to the new user who may also be older.

There is a button to push to enlarge the size of the type font, for example. There is a button labeled "Get Email", which does precisely that. The appliance will also check for email on its own (as do all of the others) up to four times per day or however often you have it set to check the email.

It has a button to alert you have email has arrived which you haven't seen (similar to the light which tells you that your answering machine has one or more phone messages for you). Mailstation also has a printer port, should you want to save your email by printing it out.

MailBug (from Landel Telecom), like Mailstation, has full-size keys to make touch typing more comfortable. It also offers Caller ID and an "easy-to-read" backlit display screen, but no printer port.

e-Mail PostBox Express (from Vtech) is pocket-sized with "chicklet"-sized keys & a 40-character display screen. e-Mail PostBox Companion has a full-sized keyboard but still has the same 40-character screen. Both appliances uses Yahoo! Mail for email service.

None of the email appliances are set up to display attachments, especially pictures/graphics.

The e-mail PostBox appliances let you see your attachments when on the Web looking at your mail using the regular Web version of Yahoo! Mail. (The others store your attachments on their server and let you access them when on the regular Web.)

e-Mail PostBox Companion (like MailStation) has a printer port but also features on-board storage and will even allow you to add memory to that storage. (Neither MailStation nor MailBug offer any permanent storage capability.)

MailStation, while featuring the option of daily delivery of email services from Yahoo! such as stock or weather or news reports, uses its own email service per se.

MailStation, MailBug, & the e-Mail PostBox Companion are all similar in size to a hardback book. (MailBug, for instance, is 10.6 inches long, 7 inches deep, and 2.75 inches high.) (As previously mentioned, the e-Mail PostBox Express can be tucked away in a pocket.)

If you want a larger screen and a "near-PC", you could get an iOpener. This appliance allows you to send & receive email and gives you a customized version of the Web with links to news, sports, weather, stocks, shopping, etc.

Basically, the iOpener is a PC with no hard drive.

As long as you don't want to create your own files & save anything to your hard (or a floppy disk or zip drive), the iOpener might be for you. (Also, with no hard disk iOpener obviously cannot handle plug-ins such as Java, Flash, Shockwave, or Adobe Acrobat, etc.)

So, what are you waiting for?

At the time of this writing, iOpener cost around $200 for the hardware. MailStation & MailBug cost around $100 for the hardware and around $100 per year for the email service (that is, for what you would normally pay your ISP). The e-Mail PostBox Express is closer to $50 & the Companion is $69 with mail-in rebate (both prices just the hardware).

Spread the word!

Email has come for even those who don't want to bother with computers but wouldn't mind getting in on the family email tree, with an appliance no more difficult to use than their answering machine!

For more information see:

  • MailStation(tm). Email Without the PC(tm).
  • MailBug(tm). Real Email Without a Computer!
  • e-Mail PostBox Companion. Finally, Email Without a Computer!
  • iOpener
  • Internet Email
  • Wireless Web
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    Last Modified: 4/19/2001