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AOL Mobile Communicator

AOL Mobile Communicator

America Online

Features: Wireless AOL e-mail, instant messages, and the popular AOL Buddy List. You can set your privacy preferences on the device to control whether other members can see you online. Tones and vibrations can be set to alert you to new e-mail and instant messages.

Cost: $99.95, service is $29.95 a month, in addition to the monthly AOL membership fee.

Technical Support can be reached at (888) 235-0893, 8 AM to 1 AM Eastern time, 7 days a week.

AOL Mobile Communicator
from America Online

Here's another tool you can strap to your utility belt! The AOL Mobile Communicator (AOL MC) keeps you connected to your AOL account all the time. The AOL MC is a BlackBerry-type device (hardware produced by RIM) with two basic AOL functions: Instant Messenger and e-mail (attachments and file transfers are not supported). This easy-to-use messaging tool is all you need to stay in touch while you're on the road, away from the computer, or even if you just don't want to use the phone.

It's simple to use; the roller wheel makes navigating the menus simple. The QWERTY keyboard makes it easy for computer users to transfer their keyboard skills to this device in no time. Typing for the first time was very simple and, in about two weeks, I was typing away, almost without looking at the keyboard. The two-finger typists will feel right at home as you use only your thumbs to enter text. The backlit display helps you see the screen in the dark, but since the keyboard doesn't light up, typing in the dark is still a difficult task.

When you get the AOL MC, setting it up with your AOL account is simple. Activate the AOL MC from your AOL account on a PC and you're ready to go. Your buddy list on the AOL MC is the same as the one you've already set up on AOL. The e-mail address book on the AOL MC, inconveniently, has to be set up from scratch.

The box came with an easy-to-use instruction manual (who reads that anyway?), the Mobile Communicator, a belt clip, and the MC's very first battery. The AOL MC is about the size of a deck of cards. The AA battery lasts a little over a week, so you'll need to keep a stack of AAs handy. The neat battery meter tells you how much power is left every step of the way. The belt clip fits the AOL MC snugly.

The AOL MC even turns its screen off when it's in the belt clip, but you can still receive messages. For those of us who want to keep this tool in our pockets, you'll most likely still need the now-inconvenient belt clip. Since there is no way to prevent the keys from being pressed, those unwanted jumble mails and IMs can be avoided only with the extra bulk of the belt clip.

Using the AOL MC proved very convenient. When I couldn't get to a computer or my mobile phone was out of range, I could depend on the AOL MC to make dinner plans or say Hello to my "buddies." When I didn't see my buddies online, I knew that I could always send them e-mail. There is, however, a delay in Instant Messaging, which was a bit of a bother. Since the messaging delay in an IM conversation is both ways, I sometimes became impatient with the AOL MC.

Around the office, the AOL MC doubles as a text pager. Going to a meeting? Turn off your alerts from the Options menu and you won't be bothered at your meeting, but you'll still get messages. When you're finished with your meeting, you can easily see who sent you an IM.

For AOL members, the AOL MC is $99.95 with a $29.95 monthly fee for unlimited use. AOL even has its 30-day satisfaction guarantee for anyone who is hesitant to spend some dough to be "always on."

As Instant Messaging grows in popularity, AOL has already begun cornering the mobile IM market with the AOL MC. Even though the AOL MC sports the "Away" feature, I never felt as if I was away from my buddies and my e-mail.

AOL has combined the convenience of BlackBerry-type e-mail with the fun of AOL Instant Messenger. But the steep price still has me convinced that for now a mobile phone will continue as my source of mobile communication.

More Stories By Nick Panagopoulos

Nick Panagopoulos is a 1999 graduate of NJIT with a BS in electrical engineering.
He is currently working as a business systems analyst at IBM Global Services.

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Most Recent Comments
chris 02/05/08 11:08:03 PM EST

I just got AOL Mobil communicator. But it did NOT come with A start up Welcome Kit. you can email me back. Thank You AOL U R THE BEST