PocketMail is unique in that you don't need access to the Internet - just a phone (almost any kind in the world, says the company). It works like this: you compose an e-mail on your PocketMail device, dial the company's 1300 number, and position the device's underbelly next to your phone's handset speaking and listening ends. Pressing a button on the device will send the e-mail as an audio signal, picked up by PocketMail's systems at the other end of the phone, translated back into data and sent on via the Internet as e-mail. Likewise, any e-mail for you at the server end is sent to your device.
It sounds complex, but is a simple procedure, and cost effective, too. The 1300 number around Australia is equal in cost to a local call (25 cents), and the service will cost from $15 per month for "all-you-can-eat" e-mail. (Different levels of services will be offered for larger clients such as corporations, the company says.)A PocketMail-enabled device is required to use the service, and the company will be launching with a $249 unit from Oregon Scientific (a brand better known in the US). We tested the service with a Sharp TM-20 organiser (pictured) that was used in PocketMail's pre-launch trials in Australia. In addition to the e-mail client, both devices include address books, memo and calendar functions. A PocketMail add-on for Palm devices will also be made available in 2000, priced between $179 and $200, the company says.
The main limitation to the service is the lack of support for rich text and e-mail attachments. There is also a download limit of 4000 bytes per e-mail.
PocketMail is really targeting the mobile worker, and should be able to provide global roaming capabilities within 12 months, when it launches in New Zealand and around the Asia-Pacific. Until that time, users will need to make international phone calls when overseas to send and retrieve their e-mail.
Price: Device $249; Service $15/month
Phone: (02) 9234 0000