A guy just sent me this email which may be of interest.
....My business often requires I travel to remote locations around the globe for relatively short periods of time, often off the traditional businessman's track. Needless to say, I rely on email as a principal communication tool. While I am blessed (???) to use various kinds of high-tech wireless technologies (in industrialized countries), I have discovered a device and service that, while limited in its capability, is simple, rugged and cost effective, a characteristic that seems to fit right into the motorcycle adventure/touring scene.
POCKETMAIL is an Australian-based company that offers email and fax communications through a proprietary "device" that looks like an electronic organizer, and uses "old fashioned" modem technology to transmit data over just about any phone system in the world. See www.pocketmail.com
for details. Sending and receiving email is accomplished by dialing a telephone number (in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and most Western European Countries, a toll-free local telephone call), placing the device up to the telephone handset, and pressing a button to begin transmitting. Transmission times depend on the length and number of emails, as well as the connection quality, but suffice it to say a half dozen moderate length messages generally takes less than one minute.
As briefly described above, the PocketMail Composer is a small electronic device which measures approximately 6"x3"x1" and weighs about 8 oz (specific dimensions can be found on the web-site) and is powered by two AA batteries. The Composer opens up to reveal a small but functional LCD screen and full QWERTY keyboard. On this you can compose and edit email and faxes (for a small additional fee), we well as numerous other normal "electronic organizer" functions such as address book, calendar, calculator, scheduler, memos, etc.
PocketMail is a text-only system. Any graphics or attachments in emails are stored on the PocketMail server for future retrieval from a real computer or the included web-mail access. Both the device and the PocketMail server have a number a relatively sophisticated configuration capabilities, as well as SPAM filtering and mailbox consolidation and administration features. Transferring data from a home computer's address book and email programs is possible using the included PocketMail cable and software.
To use the system, one must purchase 1. the Pocketmail Composer, and 2. a service subscription. In the U.S. the device cost US$100 and an unlimited-use yearly service plan cost US$ 150/yr, which includes a dedicated Pocketmail email address. Other pre-paid plans of varying duration are available. The service allows you to "Poll" other email addresses, so you can consolidate and access your other email accounts via the Pocketmail system. The service also allows you to send basic text faxes (composed from the device) for a small additional fee (in the US about $1) *** Sidebar- I know of a user who, when confronted at a 3rd-world border crossing for not having a required document, composed and faxed from his Pocketmail device an officious looking letter to the Customs officer's fax machine, "authorizing" him to enter the country. The tone of the fax and ability to maintain a Cherubic look on his face allowed him to pass unhindered.***
PocketMail has become very popular with varying segments of the market, especially mobile users, who require simplicity of use and portability. Boaters, travelers, RV'er, and other vagabonds are rapidly growing markets. Though limited in some capabilities (relative to other wireless PDA's and computer technologies), it reliably performs basic communication functions in a cheap, simple and reliable manner. My Composer has been around the world many times, has been dropped, jostled, gotten wet and yet kept on ticking, all the while remaining innocuous enough so as to not raise the interest of thieves or customs agents. With my AT & T Calling Card and a list of country access numbers, there has never been a time when I could not keep in touch. For motorcycle touring, simplicity, versatility and ruggedness are design criteria for everything we take, and that PocketMail Composer neatly stowed in your tank-bag is great !!
For what is it worth, that is my two-cents worth.
*** Disclaimer: I have NO AFFILIATION with Pocketmail, other than as a satisfied user.
Thanks Chris, Safe Travels.