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?