JVC – HC-E100 PocketMail review

e-mail PDA
Photo of JVC – HC-E100 PocketMail
£106.50 + VAT, approx £6 per month, access via international call to USA

If you just want to check your e-mails from a remote location, and don’t particularly like carrying all the associated paraphernalia – notebook, modem, cables, international phone socket adapters, and so on – around with you, you’re usually restricted to relying on the facilities available in your destination hotel. But now, it seems, there’s an alternative.

The JVC HC-E100 PocketMail device is about the same size as a small PDA, but it’s not a PDA. In fact, it doesn’t even have a built-in diary function, although there is an address book for your e-mail contacts. This is because the PocketMail is a dedicated e-mail client, with a built-in modem. Unlike conventional modems, however, this one is acoustic. That means that there are no cables or adapters to worry about; you simply dial the appropriate phone number, hold the Pocketmail over the phone’s handset, and its microphone and small speaker do the rest. Inevitably, this means that communications aren’t exactly rapid, so this isn’t the sort of device you’ll want to use when downloading large documents. But for brief text messages it works a treat. As long as you’re using an analogue phone, that is, since the PocketMail doesn’t work with digital cellphones.

The 40-character, 8-line text display has a backlight, and allows you to enter new address details, configure various user options and, of course, type in your messages using the small but adequate keyboard. Once you’re ready, you access your mail through the Pocketmail Internet server. Your default out-going e-mail address will be username@pocketmail.com, but you can also arrange for the system to access your existing POP3 mailbox account if necessary. And the device can also be used to send text messages to fax machines, which is a potentially useful feature.

Company: JVC

Contact: 01621 773755

This is an interesting little gadget, but given its price and the fact that the service incurs a monthly cost and an international phone call each time you use it, it's not an ideal business tool. You'd get far more functionality from a decent PDA and mobile phone, so this is only really for people wanting to send the occasional text message from an obscure location.