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Guidelines for TV-based e-services

Thinking of opting for a TV-based e-service? Here are some points to consider:

* What exactly do you get? Email? Full Internet access? Limited Internet access?

* What are the upfront costs? For example, do you have to subscribe to a digital TV service or buy additional hardware?

* What are the running costs? Monthly subscriptions? Call charges?

* Do you live in an area that can receive the service? Not all homes can receive cable TV for example.

lHow convenient is it to plug the TV or set-top box into your home phone line? If you receive a phone call while emailing or accessing the Internet what happens? Most systems automatically disconnect you and take the voice call, but do check.

* Is your TV set compatible? Most set-top boxes use Audio-video (AV) connecting leads - your TV needs to have the approprite connecting sockets.

* Can you compose emails offline and thus save on call charges?

* How many email addresses do you get?

* Can your email service receive attached files (like JPEG graphics files)?

* Can you also access your email from a PC? Useful if you do receive attached files.

* Is there a parental control system such as PIN code?

* Is it possible to control the websites children visit?

* Is there a system for controlling how long you go online?

* Can emails or Web information be saved, eg printed out?

* Can the supplied Web browser cope with features such as Flash animation, RealAudio sound, MP3 music files, Java and frames?

* Can the browser or service be upgraded to take advantage of new Web features or developments or are you stuck with the existing technology?

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