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UPDATE Please note that since writing this review Talk21 has been scrapped and users moved onto Yahoo so this review no longer applies but remains for historic curiosity. ----
talk21 is the free email service provided by British Telecom. There are many things to dislike BT for and this is no exception.
I registered for talk21 about 5 years ago when there was not a lot of choice of free email services. I chose talk21 simply because at that time I could get a good email address (rather than the fredbloggs1234567 you would have had to have at hotmail or yahoo). However I don't know if this is the case any more now that there are a lot more people signed up.
I have used it for all of this time but recently abandoned it because it was becoming too annoying. Over the years it has hardly been improved at all. The only reason I stuck with it for so long is that I couldn't be bothered to inform everybody of my new email address.
Firstly, what is it?
Well, to be fair, talk21 is free and it does provide all the basics of a free webmail account. As normal you have Inbox, sent, draft and trash folders. You can also create other folders (up to 10 maximum). There is a simple contacts book where you can store contacts addresses, telephone numbers etc. You can access it over POP3 and configure it to pick up email from up to 3 other POP3 servers. You get 5Mb of storage space. You can send/receive emails up to 1Mb in size. You can used SMS notification or BT call minder notification of arrived emails. You can configure filters for spam. You can configure a signature or holiday message. All seems OK so far?
What I don't like is as follows:- 1) It is so slow. When I used it over a dial up it took an age to download the pages, probably becuase of the huge number of images and adverts. Now I have ADSL it is not a lot better. It is just slow. The fact that you have to navigate around many pages to do anything makes this worse.
2) It keeps failing. I was driven mad by the infuriating message which says 'Oops! - talk21 has logged you out' or 'Oops! - talk21 servers are currently overloaded' or 'Oops - talk21 has timed you out'. The last one usually happened just after you had spent ages typing in an email. In the end I would always prepare my emails off line then just paste them into talk21 as I was loosing too much through such failures.
3) It cannot render HTML. As most messages you get nowadays are in HTML this is a serious problem. When you do get an HTML message you get redirected to a browser which takes ages and is very painful. Strangely, about a year ago they put in a beta version that could render HTML for about a week. This seemed to work OK but after a week they reverted to the old version and the beta has never been seen since!
4) The advertising Yes, OK, they need to pay for it somehow, but there are far too many adverts making sownload times excessive. Also whenever you log out you are redirected to someone's web site. This week it is an online dating agency which could be embarrassing if you system administrator is snooping through the logs. These redirections are time consuming and annoying.
5) SPAM. OK, you can configure filters but there are no automatic SPAM facilities, like bulk mail, as you get with Yahoo.
6) It has loads of bugs. For example, the sent folder displays your email address rather than the addressee in the 'from' column. Well of course it's from you as you sent it! Often you hit the send button and it just locks up and doesn't send. It keeps crasing out with the 'Oops!' messages. Nobody seems to fix the problems. I have reported them many times but they aren't interested. Obviously BT are running this on a shoestring and the person that wrote it has probably left the company.
7) It is badly designed. It does not have a very friendly and intuitive interface and the response times are terrible.
8) Support. Basically there isn't any. You used to be able to phone for about 50p a minute (of course I never did). Now it is free but you just get a recorded message of service status. You can contact support by email but you won't get a response for about a week and they wont be very sympathetic to any comments about the fact that it doesn't work. Incidentally, if it is your only email account how can you contact support if it does not work?
Generally, it is very a poor service. The speed of access was what bothered me most and in my search for a fast one I found www.junglemate.com which is very fast. Also junglemate is well designed and has many, many more facilities (excellent contacts book, calendar with scheduling and reminders, on line bookmarks, file storage, import/export, tasks, notepad and much more). Also I would recommend Yahoo which also works very well and has a good spamguard.