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[July 20, 2004]

Product Review: GopherKing

BY BENZY FERNANDO


If you are one of those people who has lots of e-mail accounts such as AOL (news - alert - quote), Earthlink (news - alert - quote), Yahoo (news - alert - quote), company e-mail addresses and now gmail, and can't keep up with checking e-mails individually on each of the domain sites, then look no further:  GopherKing is what you need. GopherKing is a fee based service that enables you to access all of your Internet e-mail accounts -- anywhere, anytime!

The idea behind GopherKing is very simple - have one location for all of your limitless number of e-mail accounts, and send and receive from different accounts with different Internet service providers. Most importantly, it can be viewed by most handhelds. Check for your device compatibility here: https://www.gopherking.com/connect/index.html?sessionid=ble.  

DESIGN & FEATURES
When you log in to GopherKing, you are welcomed with a text based (low-bandwidth) list of various items. This design concept makes it the same interface for a Palm, a Pocket PC or any mobile phone. The most important item on this initial screen would be �my e-mails� which features a short summary which I liked the best as you can scan for important messages to download and an �inbox� for each of the e-mail accounts that you have set up.

Adding the e-mail accounts to GopherKing is a snap! I had no problem setting up my e-mail accounts, which included corporate e-mail, my Cox account, AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo. But when I tried to add my recently acquired e-mail account from Gmail it gave me an error �E-mail domain not found in our ISP list.� It may be matter of time before this gets added to their ISP list.

Figure 1

Once you are in the inbox you would see a list of messages that have come from your many e-mail accounts. The only thing I don�t like about this screen is that you will see all the e-mails listed as one whole bunch instead of individual groups based on each of the e-mail domain accounts.

Figure 2

You can reply/reply all to your messages or forward or instead you can report the message as spam or delete it. It eliminates Spam/Virus and HTML tags and attachments. The worry of running out of space again on your Hotmail, MSN, AOL or your ISP account is not there anymore, as there is an option to keep each of the e-mail accounts on the ISP�s server or they can be downloaded to GopherKing. Most importantly, and I think one of the coolest features, is that you can receive an e-mail from one domain and reply with another e-mail domain account. A great example of that would be to not physically be in the office, yet send e-mail as if you were in the office!

Some of the  features included in this service are an online address book, My Files -- where you can upload files -- FTP sites, spam filters for your e-mails, DNS lookup and Whois for Webmasters. Some popular wireless sites such as ESPN and eBay are linked, as well as the ability to browse/search the Internet, send a message to a cell phone/pager, receive notification of new e-mails via any SMS cell phone or pager, news updates, stock quotes, Internet newsgroups, bookmarks, ICQ instant messages, maps, driving directions, search for Starbucks shop locations, dictionary Lookup with Thesaurus and weather reports for your zip code.

The GopherKing servers will scan for attachments with viruses, so you can relax about accidentally forwarding a virus-loaded document to your supervisor! The Spam filter works quite well, it is always running and cuts out the large amounts of embarrassing spam and minimizes the amount of unwanted e-mails you receive.

One of the features that I like about GopherKing is that it has a single user interface technology (SUI) which enables one to see the same user interface, immaterial to which device they are using, and one does not need to learn different programs to access the information. Also it previews attachments, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint files, Adobe Acrobat files (PDF), Postscript files or any picture.

I tested the GopherKing on my Sony Ericsson (news - alert) T616 Web enabled phone to see how the interface looked. To tell you the truth, it was a pleasant experience. I saw a somewhat similar interface to the Web version, and having created the bookmark for the GopherKing site now I can use it to check my e-mails while I am stuck in traffic during my morning commute! (Yeah you�re right!)

CONCLUSION
All in all, I would say GopherKing is the best service I came across in handling multiple e-mail accounts quickly and with ease. The GopherKing subscription fee varies from a $39.95-per-year basic plan to a $99.95-per-year "gold" plan. The Gold plan includes 150 MB of e-mail storage and another 50 MB of file attachment storage!

For Palm and PocketPC owners, GopherKing suggests a free service called AvantGo (news - alert). This has an option that allows subscribers to send and receive e-mail synchronizing a handheld with a computer. To read more about it go to www.avantgo.com. This option isn't a substitute for real Internet access, but it does offer the ability to read and compose e-mail while away from one�s computer.

The price is very reasonable if you are a user who travels a lot and wants to keep up with all your e-mail accounts. Low bandwidth text based design makes it faster and the device independent interface makes this service a must have for any professionals who deal with the hassle of checking each e-mail account individually. Go for GopherKing!

Benzy Fernando is a TMCnet Technology Editor. He can be reached via e-mail at bfernando@tmcnet.com.

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