Okay, so I got a new email account, and a Gmail account at that. I call it [redacted]@gmail.com – and you can feel free to email me there if you wish for some reason that I don’t understand.
But I thought it might be expeditious if I gave a small review of the service here.
First thing off, Gmail claims to be a different sort (pun!) of email service, and for once, the claim isn’t just hype. What you’ll see, instead of an inbox and folders, is an inbox, archives, and labels. No sorting into folders. Just a convenient search, and the ability to label things if you so wish.
You can mark messages with a star to denote that they are indeed special emails, and that label has its own pseudofolder. Otherwise, all your mail eventually gets archived in a catch-all psuedofolder, which you can search a la Google.com to find a particular past email.
The best feature that I can see is that fact that emails are sorted into conversations instead of each being delivered as a defacto email to your inbox. If you think that not having folders makes things a bit cluttered, this feature is one of the reasons that it’s not. I have a conversation (which is formatted much like a chat session) reaching upwards of 10 emails.
Gmail is also very fast, except to load, which takes about as much time as a normal email service like Yahoo! or Hotmail (I spit upon thee, Hotmail!). But inside the account itself, nothing takes more than a split second to perform, from sending to archiving to expanding a conversation so you can see each message separately.
So, mostly positive, right? Well, not really. While the frontend is feature-rich and very user-friendly, it’s going to take a while for people to get used to the Gmail system of starring and archiving in lue of folders and a proper inbox. Searching is a great feature, something other email providers need, and now. But the greatest drawback is in its Contacts features (or lack thereof). There’s no nicknames or short names, and the information you can provide is limited at best. It also has no way to import or export addresses, which would be a great feature. Especially for those of us that are using Yahoo! mail right now; it would be a great thing if I could import a CSV file of exported Yahoo! addresses. And I have a large contact list. You could even set up something that would import a XML file such as a MSN Messenger contact list export.
Other than that, Gmail gets a 8 out of 10. It’s clean, fast, and truly revolutionary. The ads are small and out of the way, something I can’t say for Yahoo! or Hotmail. And though the 1gb of space you get is its most trumpeted feature, I’d say it’s merely the icing on the cake.