By Lori L. Bloomer
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Shop Till You Log Off
The battle of the online services is getting bloodier by the day-and
that can only mean good news for the consumer. While America Online
continues to ratchet up its subscriber base with saturation advertising,
and Microsoft Network links its fortunes to that of its cable
cousin MSNBC, CompuServe (CIS) has kept its focus on the computer-literate
business user. And in that vein, CIS has lately moved steadily
toward better integrating communications devices and services
aimed at the mobile professional.
Earlier this year, CIS debuted the Stay In Charge Initiative,
designed for on-the-go business users. The initiative's first
noteworthy component was Pager Services. This feature allows your
pager to act as a portable e-mail box, receiving messages and
sending them to pagers by using a special CIS address.
Now the company is offering the CompuServe Communications Card,
which lets users access e-mail without a computer. CompuServe
mail can now be read to the user over the phone through voice-synthesis
software; mail can also be faxed to any fax line, sent to either
a numeric or alphanumeric pager, or forwarded to another e-mail
address. The same applies to voice-mail messages left on CIS,
beeper messages sent via CIS, or faxes sent to a CompuServe mailbox.
While the pager service costs a minimum of $4.95 a month unless
your provider is one of CompuServe's partners, users of the card
are charged only for the time used to access mail.