On the plus side, setting up Netscape Mail is relatively simple--pick a screen name and a password, enter your e-mail address, your birth date, and a verification code. But finding an available screen name took us nearly a dozen tries. (Netscape can create a screen name for you by combining three words of your choosing, but all of its suggestions were lame.)
Netscape Mail's interface is bare-bones at best, though it displays fewer blinking ads than Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, or Lycos Mail. Unlike most other Web-mail services, Netscape Mail can neither sort messages in any way nor can it display your folders alongside your in-box--you have to click the folder tabs in order to get to them. For these basic e-mail niceties, you'll need to access your Web-mail messages using Netscape Navigator 7.1's e-mail client.
As for features, well, Netscape has but a few. It scans both incoming and outgoing mail for viruses. You can add a signature to the bottom of each outgoing message. Also, you can create folders for stashing mail, but unlike in Yahoo Mail, you can't do it on the fly--you have to go into the Folders tab and create a new folder before you can move messages into it. Nor can you create rules that filter mail into your folders as it comes in. And because there's no way to import an existing address book, you'll have to enter all of your addresses by hand. Finally, there's no search utility.
If you run into snags, you're essentially on your own. Netscape provides extensive online documentation, but getting help from a human will cost you a whopping $10 per issue for e-mail help or $40 by phone. That's just a bit too rich for almost any Web service, especially a free one.