Device offers e-mail access from any phone

Help Line

July 26, 1999|By James Coates | James Coates,Chicago Tribune

We are planning a three-month-long trip to a warmer climate this winter via travel trailer. But I realize I will miss my e-mail contacts, and we're wondering if a laptop would be a good idea, given the space required for a regular setup. Can we use a cell phone to connect a laptop?

My own efforts to review cell phone-modem products have failed to find anything reliable because of frequent lost signals while attempting to maintain an Internet connection.

May I suggest instead a slick little device called PocketMail? It costs somewhere between $100 and $150 and delivers rock-solid and foolproof mobile access to e-mail via cell phone or any other kind of phone.

The device looks like the typical clamshell electronic-organizer gadget with a small LCD screen and Chiclet-size keyboard.

You write the mail on the keyboard, and when you're ready to send and receive messages you simply dial a toll-free number and hold the device up against your phone.

It emits a series of coded screeches, translating your e-mail into signals that move over phone lines.

The devices are made by Sharp and JVC and can be acquired through the PocketMail Web site at You'll also need a $10 per month e-mail account from PocketMail.

I have an old 75 MHz computer with a 850 MB hard drive. I'd like to set it up for my children with just some basics like AOL and games. Will AOL 4.0 fit and how do I go about erasing the hard drive and re-establishing it with only the operating system and other bare necessities?

You probably can eke enough life out of that antique Pentium I running Windows 95 by using the Add/Remove feature built into Windows to clean off all the existing software.

This is done by clicking on the Start icon at the bottom of the screen and choosing Settings, then Control Panel, then the icon marked Add/Remove Software.

The idea here is that software written for Windows standards requires authors to include the module that automatically uninstalls itself.

You can, for example, use Add/Remove to do away with your earlier version of the AOL software as well as the various productivity programs such as Microsoft Works and games now on your 75 MHz machine.

This certainly will give you a machine capable of running the latest America Online software, although the performance will be pretty slow if you are used to running it on a faster computer.

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Pub Date: 07/26/99

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