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OneBox is a great system, however it does not offer a toll-free number, rather a selection of numbers within various area codes. If you're lucky you could end up with a free local number, otherwise you will have to settle for a long-distance one.
Another excellent provider, aimed at students, is CollegeClub. This system also allows you to hear your emails over the phone and can page you when you have new mail; a great system! Bolt.com is also definitely well worth a look.
The best providers, in our opinion, are Yahoo!Mail and Hotmail. We would also recommend any of the systems powered by Critical Path. Other highly recommended systems are those powered by Outblaze and Commtouch. Commtouch now offers a calendar and todo list, as well as free email and additional services for a small monthly fee. These features are available at their own site, ProntoMail. We also recommend BET.com, a very slick site targeting African-Americans, which uses Commtouch technology.
All of the prominent portal sites offer great free email, including AltaVista, Excite , Go Network, Lycos, etc. We especially like Excite, which has a good selection of services, second only to Yahoo.
Yahoo!Mail has the most extensive feature set of all the web-based providers and its ability to inform you of new messages on your desktop is great. It also seems to be a very reliable provider and avoids many of the gimmicky graphics that many other providers use.
Hotmail, with over 55 million users, is now the largest email provider in the world, ahead of AOL. It is certainly an excellent system but we suspect its popularity is based more on people’s awareness of it than the quality of the service itself. Hotmail also now offers a multi-lingual interface, with versions available in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.
Another system that we have been very impressed with is Newmail.net. This site has an excellent set of features and is also fully POP3/SMTP compatible. Newmail.net is based in Israel but is in English, though they plan to offer the site in more languages in the future.
MailCity and the other Lycos-powered systems are also very good, but they have a maximum width of 55 characters when composing a message, which seems very small to me. They also have a download feature, which may be a great plus to some users.
Mail.com (iName) and its sister systems all provide forwarding, a selection of email addresses and POP3 accessibility, the latter for an additional monthly fee. (Note: Many systems provide extra functionality/storage space for an additional charge). Another provider that offers a great selection of domain names is MyOwnEmail with over 200 to choose from.
Two sites aimed at the younger generation are Headbone Zone, and JuniorMail, both being provided by Commtouch. Headbone is aimed at younger children. Users can send email out to any address but incoming mail will be forwarded to a parent's email address first, unless the address of the sender has been pre-approved. This is a great provider for children. JuniorMail is basically ProntoMail for under-18's. Even though it's aimed at pre-teens, its sign up process refers to such things as "your credit card," "your business cards," etc.!
Juno looks like a good system but you have to obtain their free proprietary software to access it. It is not Internet based, rather you dial into a local Juno access number. If you don't regularly have Internet access then Juno is the best system for you. Note: Juno software does not run on Macs. It also does not handle attachments, which could be a problem for some, though you can now pay for an upgrade to Juno Gold which does handle attachments.
Juno now offers free Internet access as well as free email.
Note: As far as we know there is no system like Juno that is available for the Mac.
The best POP3/SMTP provider available at the moment is probably GMX.net, based in Germany. This provider offers a fully functional web-based system as well as POP3/SMTP access. GMX was available in several different languages and country specific domain names but now it is only available in German, though the optional domain names are still available. You may also want to check out Softhome.net. Their free service now requires users to receive a number of Softhome.net-approved advertising emails, which may be a small price to pay for a free service, especially if your email software can filter them out!
In our opinion the best of these is Webmail.com. ZotMail is also an excellent system that allows you to register multiple POP3 accounts and also has a pop-up window that informs you when new mail arrives at any of the accounts.
Systems such as Bigfoot simply forward emails to another email account, which means you would have to another account somewhere. They just give you a permanent address when your email address is likely to change from time to time. At the moment, Bigfoot is the only forwarder that will forward emails to more than one account. Note: Many of the Web-based systems also offer forwarding.
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