Nuggets: Sugar sweet on email

Its design makes some people laugh but Amstrad's e-m@ailer promises to bring email to the masses

Everyone's been getting very excited about Sir Alan Sugar's new email phone, the e-m@iler. We've had one sitting in the office for a couple of days and it seems to get amusingly strong reactions -- people either burst out laughing or think its kind of cool. Click here for images

Style-wise, it reminds you of the sort of gadgetry that seemed so futuristic on Blake's Seven. But looks aside, the design is very user friendly, with chunky silver buttons to get you straight into the email screen, voicemail and address book.

Once you've registered an email account with Amserve, it is child's play to get up and emailing. A dinky Psion-style keyboard slides out from the bottom of the unit for typing your mail and there are alert lights at the top of the stick-out screen to let you know when you have email or voicemail.

The phone also comes with a slightly flimsy, early 80s-style personal organiser. It syncs with the phone and you can use it to store names, numbers and email addresses -- but not postal ones.

There have been mutterings here about much this will actually cost, once you've taken the charges into account: 12p a minute to collect emails and 12p apiece to send. At the moment it's not possible to access your Internet email account as the built-in browser has been disabled. This facility should appear in the near future, though.

Such snipings aside, Amstrad's new baby would seem ideal for people who want to be able to send and receive emails occasionally but don't want to buy a computer. Even if you use a PC for the majority of you communication, the fact that you don't need to boot this phone up would make it a useful device when you just want to knock out a quick message.

For £80, this really does bring email to the masses.

Free with your PDA you get a phone answering machine. And a phone. And an email machine, plus a free email identity. Go to AnchorDesk UK with Guy Kewney to read the news comment.

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