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Computerless Email

   April 15th, 2008

Presto Email Printing ServiceOccasionally spam email messages catch my eye. I recently saw one with this subject: "Send Email and Photos to Loved Ones Who Don't Use a Computer."

I'm not promoting this service, but I think it's an interesting idea, and I'd never heard of it before. The company is Presto.com, and what they sell is a way to electronically communicate with someone who doesn't have email.

The product is a printer that plugs into a home phone line, and their service converts incoming emails into color printouts - with no user intervention.

The demo is worth watching, but how it works seems fairly simple. Each HP printer gets an email account (which is managed by someone who is comfortable with the internet), and in addition to printing messages from loved ones, the company also provides free content like crosswords, recipes, and newsletters. And since you control the "approved sender" list, it means no spam and no ads.

I keep thinking this might actually have a place in a library, but I can't exactly figure it out. I certainly would rather teach someone how to use email than give them a crutch, but lots of people don't have the time or desire to learn - but do want pictures of their grandkids.

The catch would be if each printer is only associated with one email address. If it could handle more, then this might be a service we could provide to patrons. They set up an account with us, and then we hold whatever printouts they receive just like we hold their requested books. That would definitely strengthen the library's sense of community, but perhaps this product is better suited for senior centers or retirement homes.

Besides, kids today are practically issued cell phone numbers and IM handles at birth, so this type of technology is probably pretty short-lived.




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4 Responses to “Computerless Email”

  1. Chris Says:

    Hope they stock up on ink and paper. Imagine if their get their email address on a SPAMmer’s list. The printer would constantly be spewing out little blue pill ads.

    Although, I didn’t watch the demo, so maybe they addressed this.

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  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    They do – you actually type in a list of email addresses that are allowed to send to you, so that’ll pretty much take care of spam. It’d be a bit of a pain to maintain, but certainly worth it to limit just to people you know.

  4. Suzanne Says:

    This machine is nice – but there is another one that lets people send an email – using the fax – as well as receive email msgs by fax. It’s great technology – especially for senior citizens who just cannot – or do not want to – use computers. Like my Mom! MyCelery.com has all the info. It’s reasonably priced for the fax machine and the subscription service. They can use their own fax machine, also. Customer service is the BEST!!!