The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.
Share this review on
Gmail is a web based email service from Google, which has been available for a couple of years, at first by very strict invitation only. It is still in Beta testing although now it is much easier to find someone to give you an invitation for an account, than it used to be.
Firstly, there has been some controversy about its name and that might cause confusion over email addresses. When the name Gmail was launched, Google were sued in more than one country over the use of the name. Other companies claimed to be using the name already. In the UK, amazingly for a big company, Google gave up the fight and decided to re-brand as Googlemail. So although you can still access your account from www.gmail.com the address from mid October 05 has been email@example.com and not firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have an address that was created earlier, then it will still work, but no new names will be created with the Gmail name. They now have a new logo, GoogleMAIL and the whole site has the same look and feel as the normal Google search engine.
I applied for my account before this, and I have noticed that my reply to address has been changed to Googlemail now. I invited two friends from America recently, and they both got the name@gmail addresses still.
When Google was launched the main idea was that it would be a kind of lifetime email account, and it re-wrote the rule book for how much storage you could have with web-based email providers, for example Hotmail, which is probably the world's biggest email company (or maybe AOL). Hotmail now allow 250mb of storage for free, but my current limit with Googlemail is more than ten times that. I am not even registering 1% yet, whereas my Hotmail address fills quite quickly if I get lots of photos at once for example, until I clear them out.
The idea is supposed to be one email address for life, and that you never have to delete anything. In practice I do delete stuff anyway but for people who like to keep all emails they ever get, then this is probably the email account for you. In practice I think the limit would still go up as while I am using not even 1% now, in time we will be doing bigger things with email and storage and so probably in 10-20 years even 2.6GB will be nothing.
GoogleMAIL do seem to have been very slow in getting the service on general release. You cannot just go to Gmail or Google Accounts and register for a new account, like what was intended. It must be fairly close to a proper launch though, as whereas invites were extremely rare, within a few weeks of opening my account and giving out my first three invites, I was given 100 more to give away! So it cannot be that exclusive any more, as most people probably can't think of 100 people to give invitations to
As it is web based, the Standard version is supported on most browsers. If you are on an older version of Internet Explorer or Netscape then you don't get all the features but you do get a basic HTML version. But unless you are running an ancient computer it should be ok.
You can configure your Googlemail address to work with Outlook if you would rather use MS outlook or keep more than one email address together. I find though that even after only a relatively short time, I hardly ever use my other email address now. I can go days and days without even checking it The advantage of using the POP settings is you can work off line and access your emails, so read and reply off line, then connect to send and receive. You can also configure it to work with Blackberries.
To get an account, you will have to know someone, who can then send you an invitation to your current email address. You simply follow the link to activate an account. You will be told in the opening email that it is a beta product and they may want feedback from time to time, but they will let you keep your address afterwards (LOL, they are hardly not going to let you keep it are they?). They automatically let the person who invited you know, if you choose to make an account.
I love the fact that all the contacts are auto-stored so you do not have to do anything. If you want to send an email, you can just type the first letter of their name in the "to:" box and you will get a drop down menu of all your contacts with that initial in their surname, first name or in the address part of their email address. If someone emails you, their name goes in automatically. This is a lot better than any other email I have used.
The next unique part is that all the email replies are stored as one continuous conversation. So you might be having say 10 conversations with different people going on at once, and instead of 100 emails, you will just have 10 conversations in your inbox. You can expand and collapse the conversation, and forward or reply from any point. If you email a few people at once, then all their replies get stored with the initial conversation. This is really cool to use in practice, although I was quick replying emails with a friend who hadn't signed up for Googlemail and he asked me to use my hotmail, as it left a thread a mile long in his hotmail lol.
With the standard version you have everything you would expect from an email program such as formatting text, spell check and having a standard signature. Obviously you can attach files too.
You also notice that there are not any advertisements with Googlemail like there are with Hotmail and other providers. You do get links on the right hand side of your email conversations, but I hardly even notice them. You do not have to do anything to get rid of them so you can continue, like pop ups. I only notice them if they are particularly funny. They work off the context of what is in the emails so sometimes you get some unusual site links :P
Googlemail is supposed to have less spam than other email accounts. I have only had one spam email since I opened my account. You can report spam addresses to Google and the more that people do this, the better it will be at filtering out spam anyway. I think it is difficult to eliminate spam altogether though as the people sending it just change their addresses all the time. I definitely don't get lots of emails offering medicines though lol. There is a Spam folder and if you are lucky enough that it is empty like mine you get the message "Hooray, no Spam Here!" which is the programmers' little touch of humour. (If you go to deleted items it says "No conversations in the wastebasket. Who needs to delete when you have over 2000 MB of storage?!")
You don't have to delete email, but if you do, they stay in the trash for 30 days before they are deleted altogether.
You can send attachments up to 10mb in size, which is pretty big. You are not allowed to receive executable files (e.g. file.exe) though as this is intended to ensure you don't get viruses that way. I did have problems opening some accounts from someone who sent them from a Mac but then I couldn't open them from Hotmail either so this was obviously the file type and not Googlemail that was the problem.
The search facility on the email is extremely powerful. If you want to look for an email you received but cannot remember who sent it and when then you can just search using whatever word you feel and you can search all of your email text as well as titles in seconds. You can quickly search the web using Google from the same box, and even on the same word, and a new window will open so you won't lose your open email account.
If you truly do keep all your emails and end up with thousands then you can "star" certain conversations. This makes them easier to spot in your inbox and it also makes them searchable, so you can just view all "Starred" emails instead of the whole lot. I delete anyway so it is not a major benefit for me, but it might be useful if you have 100's of emails. You can also create "labels" and group conversations and emails that way. For example "Dad" "University", "Work" "Online Memberships" might be four different labels, which you can also use to help sort all your email.
I haven't downloaded the "Googletalk" application yet, although the friend that invited me to Googlemail in the first place has talked about it a lot. It is still quite new, and was only launched a few months ago, and in time will allow you to have all IM conversations in one place e.g. Yahoo, AIM, and MSN etc. But at the moment it's not ready for that yet. You can still use a Googlemail address with Windows Messenger or MSN anyway, if you want to keep the number of accounts down. As it automatically pulls all your contacts through from Googlemail, then I don't think it will be long before it starts to become extremely popular too. I hate the fact I have people on yahoo and some on msn, and would much rather they were all together, so I don't miss anything lol.
Since I opened an email account I have never had any problems signing in, unlike on hotmail which does go down from time to time.
I am not really technical or anything, like some of the other reviews on here, but I hope that gives an idea of how good this email provider is