| In the same way it rocked the Internet-search world, Google has caused a stir in the Web-mail arena, this time with its recent introduction of Gmail Beta. At the time of Google's announcement of its new online mail service, leading services such as Yahoo Mail and MSN Hotmail were offering free e-mail accounts with one or two megabytes of storage, while Gmail boasted a whopping one gigabyte of storage for free.
Not surprisingly, the competition took notice. Yahoo was the first to take action, upping the storage maximum for its free service to 100MB. Microsoft has said it will dole out roomy 250MB in-boxes for its free Hotmail service later this summer, but for now, you're still stuck with the minuscule 2MB max. Lycos and Netscape have yet to respond to the Gmail threat, keeping mum about their 5MB in-boxes.
With the free Web-mail landscape changing, where should you spend your money--er, your time? We look at five of the largest Web mailers to find out which delivers the best user experience and the most features--from virus scanning to spam filtering--for, well, nothing. Until Google completes its beta test of Gmail and releases a final version of the service, we'll reserve our final judgment (and rating). We'll tell you what we think of it in its current form, however, and say how the others stack up to it and to one another.
Daniel Tynan is a North Carolina-based freelancer and a frequent contributor to CNET Reviews.
Sean Portnoy, a senior associate editor with Computer Shopper magazine, wrote the introduction to this story.
Read the full review: