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If all you want to do is send and receive e-mail, then you don’t need to buy a PC for this. This is the concept behind the iStation. It’s a small rectangular box with an LCD panel and a keyboard for working on your e-mail. The device can be hooked to any telephone line. It then dials to the service provider and uploads or downloads all your e-mail. The company that makes iStation also provides the e-mail service.

It has several good features. First of all, it’s multi-lingual. Currently, it only supports Kannada, but more languages will be added later. One thing we were not able to check was whether the recipient of an e-mail sent from the iStation will be able to read the e-mail without installing a separate font.

The iStation has 2.5 hours of battery backup, so it can be used even if there’s no power. The storage space on the device is limited though. It has an RS-232 port for connecting to a PC. The e-mail on the iStation can be transferred to your PC using this port.

The e-mail client on the iStation is very simple, but sacrifices many functions that are available in an ordinary e-mail client. First of all, you can only send and receive text-based messages with it. No attachments or HTML messages are supported. Second, you can only operate the e-mail account provided by its service provider. So if you have any other POP3 accounts, then you can’t use them with this.

Initially, e-mail service for the iStation will only be available in Bangalore. However, the company is planning to make it available across the country later. iStation is expected to be launched sometime in December.

Anil Chopra in Bangalore

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