Papyrus revisited

New e-mail note pad lets you use the Net without succumbing to it

For visionaries who are still searching for the Internet’s “killer application” of the 1990s, e-mail is clearly the answer. Nearly four out of five Americans (77.9%) who use the Internet use it to send e-mail, and over half (53.6%) of those with Internet access outside the home use the Net for e-mailing. Consequently, manufacturers are creating devices devoted solely to the sending and receiving of e-mail.

One example is the MailStation, produced by CIDCO, which affords e-mail capability to people without a PC. The unit is a sleek 2.2 pounds with a keyboard 85% as large as the standard size. The bitmap screen is 6 by 2.2 inches, and provides two font sizes for easy reading of text. The device ships with an A/C adapter or three AA batteries, and can run smoothly on either source. Smaller than a 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper, it is quite portable. It comes already configured and ready for use. Simply plug it directly into a phone jack, turn it on and type away. For convenient automatic e-mail delivery, the device can be left connected to a phone, as one would do with a computer.

MailStation can send e-mail of up to 1,000 characters but does not allow for attachments. That feature is addressed by a complementary Web-based e-mail account from CIDCO, which mirrors the address configured in the unit. This allows you to still receive attachments via e-mail at your MailStation.com address, and check your e-mail when you are away from the device. Between 300 and 400 pieces of e-mail, or 100 pages of text, can be stored, easily faxed or printed from the appliance.

The MailStation comes with a spell checker, e-mail address book (capable of holding 1,000 contacts), calendar and calculator. Presently, CIDCO offers the e-mail appliance in a package with one year of e-mail service for $198. If you don’t want to commit to a full year of service, you can purchase the unit for $149 and pay $9.99 per month for e-mail services. The device can support a maximum of five separate users. For more information, call 800-718-1242 or visit www.cidco.com.

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