Phone takes messages, tells you when e-mail messages await you

WHAT'S HOT

April 19, 1999|By Gareth Branwyn

Phone takes messages, tells you when e-mail messages await you

Casio PhoneMate's new IT-380 E-Mail Link ($149) is an unusual telephone that combines normal desk phone functions with a digital answering machine and an "e-mail advisory" feature. At intervals you schedule, the IT-380 will dial your Internet service provider and alert you to new messages waiting for you online.

A three-line, 18-character LCD screen displays the headers of up to 40 e-mail messages, showing subject lines, senders' e-mail addresses, and time-date stamps. The E-Mail Link doesn't download the entire message; instead, it gives just enough information so you can decide if you need to go to your PC and log on.

The IT-380 is geared toward casual users who don't check e-mail on their PCs very often, home office workers who don't want to be connected to the Net continuously, and e-mail obsessives who'll buy any inexpensive gizmo that will keep them wired to their e-mailboxes.

The IT-380 E-Mail Link also works with Mail Call, a text-to-voice remote e-mail service. If you can't wait to log on to download your messages, for a fee Mail Call will read them to you. The Mail Call service starts at $7.50 a month for 30 minutes of usage.

This phone has other nice features, including a speakerphone (unfortunately, half-duplex -- only one person can speak at a time), a digital answering machine with 14 minutes of record time, variable speed playback, and the ability to find out if "you've got mail" from another phone.

Information: 310-618-9910 or www.casiophonemate.com

Do-it-yourself file recovery possible by knowledgeable

I can't tell you how many distress calls I've received from friends and clients who've lost a hard drive and had no backup of their data. There was the couple with six months of fried financial data, the budding novelist who lost more than a month's worth of work on her great American novel, and a number of equally tragic scenarios.

They always want to know how much a data recovery service is going to cost. When I tell them it could be hundreds (even thousands) of dollars depending on the nature of the damage, the necessity of regular backups becomes a hard-learned lesson.

Now there's a way to do disk recoveries on your own, thanks to PowerQuest's Lost & Found ($69.95). The company claims that if the disk still spins, there's a good chance of recovering your data. The program can recover files lost because of disk crashes, corrupted media, system failure, even files that were unintentionally deleted from either your hard disk or removable media.

Lost & Found isn't the most user-friendly program. Trying to piece together data files on a sick computer is not always a pretty sight. If you're an experienced PC user (especially one unafraid of a DOS prompt), you should have no problem figuring the program out. If you're a more casual user, find the "alpha geek" in your neighborhood and ask him or her to help. Whatever that costs (a pizza will work as a bribe) will be worth it.

But whatever you do, don't let Lost & Found lull you into a sense of false security. If you can't afford to lose it, BACK IT UP.

Information: 800-379-2566 or www.powerquest.com

You can find full reviews of these and other gadgets at www. streettech.com.

Pub Date: 04/19/99

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