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E-mail in your Pocket

by Peggi McDonald

When RVers depend on the Internet, moving from place to place can be a real challenge to stay on top of email. Yes some parks have a phone hook-up available to connect a laptop but if you are moving around with a desktop, a modem hook-up in a park office is not much help. Don't despair all is not lost, thanks to the Sharp TM-20 and PocketMail service there is now an economical and convenient answer to staying in touch. We have had one of these fantastic units for over a year and I can't imagine travelling without our Pocketmail device. The best part is this service also works for RVers who are travelling without their computer---PocketMail includes an email address, However John and I prefer to use our regular email address, so thanks to 'Mailbox Consolidation' our Sharp TM-20sends email and copies the original of a message that shows up on my computer to my PocketMail device..

Our 'Sharp-TM 20' miniature (3" x 6"x 1/2") device connects to PocketMail service with the use of a telephone receiver---no connection lines are required. It is so easy to pick-up or send email with PocketMail. I simply take my compact device out of my fanny pack, hold it up to any telephone receiver, dial an 800 number (good in Canada and the USA), push the blue PocketMail button and wait till the phone quits making weird noises. When it beeps for the final time, the operator announces "transmission successful"; the device then emits an audible signal to indicate we have messages. The entire process takes less than a minute. Turn the unit on, push the Inbox button, highlight the message we wish to read and click the 'Enter' button. The displayed message opens as an email. That is all there is to it.

It takes a bit of practice to type the words on a special 1 1/2-inch by 4-inch screen using a miniature version of a computer or typewriter keyboard, but in a few days you will be amazed at how fast you can type a message with two to four fingers. When finished hit the 'Done' button, your message moves to the Outbox. Staying in touch by email while on the move with the family, the grandkids and computer savvy friends has finally become simplified. The central PocketMail server transmits email to all Internet destinations. On the downside users can't open attached files or photos or access accounts or surf the net. However there is no limit to the number of e-mail that customers can send or receive, nor are there restrictions on the amount of phone check-ins.

These compact units are worth their weight in gold. Even though John and I depend on the Internet to manage the RoadLinks portion of our web page as well as to keep in contact with family and friends--- thanks to our Pocketmail we now only need to 'search' for a 'modem' (phone hook-up) to connect my computer 2-3 times per week.

We check PocketMail messages several times a day. I spend many hours at the computer but thanks to this outstanding device John is now involved in our day-to-day email contact. He usually picks up and sends the messages, gets to read them first as well as answer a few. It is wonderful to see so many snowbirds, RVers and truckers effortlessly 'staying in email contact' with those dear to them while they are many miles from home. A man stopped to talk to me in Laughlin, Nevada at the restaurant the other day while I was composing messages after lunch. He uses his PocketMail device to stay in business contact with his American Company while he is in Europe. As we travel the highways I compose messages for the Outbox and when we stop for a break John or I go to a pay phone to send them as well as pick up new ones.

This compact device aligns with the receiver of pay phones, cordless phones, all landlines and most analogue cell phones; especially those with the voice flip up receiver. Transmission is usually accessible inside buildings, in underground facilities, on busy streets and anywhere there is a telephone. Occasionally 'dialing in' will interrupt when a line is not clear, but redialing or using another phone generally completes the transmission. If the phone is very noisy or the area is surrounded with loud clatter, simply cover the voice part of the device with a t-shirt and the transmission becomes trouble free. The best part of these fantastic devices is no cables or telephone jacks or adapters are needed to connect. The PocketMail service can block or filter messages from specific senders, domain names or messages displaying particular words. This multi-functional accessory is also an organizer, a scheduler, an address book, an anniversary record and a memo pad plus it can send or receive an inexpensive FAX. The screen displays 40 characters by 8 lines with a choice of three font sizes, plus a backlight button enhances poor light situations. The SharpTM-20 is a valuable accessory for all RVers but it is especially beneficial for those who do not carry a laptop on board. It also makes a great gift for friends and family who are not yet 'on-line'; PocketMail encourages an easy transformation to staying in touch through cyberspace without long distance costs.

NOTE: Technology is constantly changing and a new style unit called the Audiovox PM-32 will hit the market in a few months to replace the Sharp TM-20. The PM-32 will operate similar to the TM-20, cost will be the same, but this newer version will also work with digital cell phones and provide information services. Unfortunately the organizer will not be a part of the new PM-32

To those of us who are dependent on the wonders of the Internet nothing compares with a fast convenient ISP in the comfort of our home (or RV). However that is not always a possibility when we travel to laid back destinations. This winter we moved every week or two. Frequently trying to find modem connections became a colossal challenge. However thanks to PocketMail we were always in email contact. If the full-length message is longer than 4000 characters (approximately two full pages), PocketMail removes non-pertinent information to reduce the size. Customers who routinely receive numerous e-mail messages can re-program the TM-20 so only subject headings are displayed. To view a particular message, highlight the heading, click the spacebar and dial in again, the entire message is now ready for action.

For computer users, PC synchronization is available for the Sharp TM-20 and the Audiovox PM-32 to assist in composing email plus it allows the transfer and back up of pocketmail info to your computer. PocketScience Inc, the parent company, also markets the 'Back-Flip' that snaps on the back of Palm Computing devices to provide wireless email along with numerous valuable features.

With the birth of PocketMail, a remarkably simple, affordable, portable, and easy way to stay connected worldwide became a reality. Do you have e-mail access in your pocket?

Check out Peggi McDonalds
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