How small is small?

The utility of the Net and the range of services it offers continues unabated. If you think back, it wasn’t all that long ago that having a fax machine became necessary if you were seriously interested in communicating quickly for business or pleasure. Well, things have changed, again. A new service called PocketMail lets you communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime, as long as you have access to a telephone. It’s very simple: buy one of the new email “appliances” from Sharp or JVC (about $150), pay $9.95 (U.S.) per month to PocketMail, and you can have instant access to your email from just about anywhere.

As a subscriber, you simply dial a toll-free number and connect to the service via your “appliance” and the phone’s handset. The set has a small keyboard to compose messages, and downloads your mail for instant display on a small screen.

Reviewers have found the devices and services simple and easy to use, but note that PocketMail doesn’t support attachments (where would they go?) and can sometimes get confused by background noise when you’re sending or receiving mail. All of your PocketMail stays on the company’s server for 30 days, giving you plenty of time to downlo mail at your home or office computer.

The prospect of email anywhere, anytime might horrify some people who already feel we are all too “plugged in”, but for heavy business users who travel frequently and don’t want to lug around a lap-top, the system could be just about perfect: no more fax machine in the trunk!