Walt Mossberg

Recent Columns by Walt Mossberg

Mossberg’s Mailbox

Accessing Email Without Web Access

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

My mother is 80 years old and would like to purchase a device whereby she can send and receive emails only. She does not surf the Internet. Do you have any suggestions?

Unfortunately, I don’t know of a simple gadget, like the now-discontinued MailStation, that just sends and receives emails. However, there is a service and device, aimed mainly at those seniors who aren’t comfortable with computers or smart phones, that allows the receipt of email, and even photo attachments. The drawback is that this system is one-way — users can receive email and pictures but can’t send emails.

The service is called Presto, and it uses a special Hewlett-Packard printer that connects to a phone line. Your mother would receive a Presto email address, and any emails and photos sent to her would materialize as printouts. A broadband connection is neither required, nor compatible. The device costs $100, and the service costs $100 a year, if paid on an annual basis, or $10 a month, if paid monthly. Information is at presto.com.

I have boxes and boxes of old photos, and about 20 home videotapes and old movies. Some of the photos are fading and showing wear, so I would like to find a company that can convert them to a DVD. Doing it at home would take too long. Have you reviewed such a company?

. Some years back, I reviewed and recommended a service called YesDVD, from a company called YesVideo, that converts videotapes, movie film and photos to DVD. It worked well in my tests. The service operates through retailers, such as Walgreens, CVS, Best Buy and Costco, where you drop off your materials and then later receive the DVD, plus your original stuff. More information is at yesvideo.com.

I enjoyed your review of Xobni. Will it work on Outlook Express or Entourage?

No. Xobni, which creates personal profiles and social networks from your stored email, doesn’t work with Microsoft Outlook Express for Windows or Microsoft Entourage for the Mac, or for any email program other than Microsoft Outlook 2003 or 2007, on computers running Windows XP or Windows Vista. The company is working on a version for Yahoo Mail.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online, free, at the new All Things Digital Web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

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