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      04.02.2004 16:31
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      I haven't been on the internet for that long, but have used friends computers and always wanted one for myself. I believe that the internet is the way forward in communication for the future. So when I got the chance to buy a computer about two years ago I jumped at it. After setting it up at home the next thing was to get connected to the internet, this is what had the facination for me getting connected to the world. I first got a disc sent through the post with all the other junk mail that usually ends up in the bin, but this disc was for Aol 5.0 and gave me 30 hours of free internet use as a trial run. I could ring them and cancel after the trial period if I wanted. They also sent me another disc to update to AOL 8.0 after I had been online with them for a few months. Other than this I have never received any other junk mail from them, which I am impressed with as usdually once you join somewhere they hassle you with other offers. Having then installed the disc, typed in my details and there I was logged into the internet. Connected to the world and ready to explore this new adventure. Before my 30 free hour trial was up able to go into my account details, by typing the word Billing into the AOL Keyword section which is in the menu bar at the top of the page. This brings up a list of things you can look up. How to check your current bill. What my billing date is. How long I've been on line. How to change my price plan. Frequent questions asked. To change your price plan go to keywords again and type in pricing and select the available price choice. I chose AOl flatrate because it was affordable for me. At 15.99 this is very reasonable. I get unlimited hours on the net, as well as seven email addresses. This means that when I'm not online my partner or daughter can be and it isn't costing me any more than 15.99 a month ever. This service is available if you are w
      ith BT, NTL, or Telewest telephone landlines. All the calls to the net are free so there's no other added charge. I think this is the best deal that there is online. AOL will also give you £30 if you get one of your friends to go online with them, so you can always get this knocked off your bill to save you even more money. I have never been disappointed with the service and have always been able to log on. Although it takes me two minuites to get on line, I'm still not bothered as this is still fast to me who hasn't a top of the range computer. As long as I can connect everyday I'm happy and if I can keep the payments as low as possible it makes it easier to be able to earn the money online to pay for the use of the internet. So if your looking for a low budget price plan then Aol Flatrate is deffinately worth considering.

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        16.03.2003 02:20
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        I used AOL Flat Rate for nearly 2 years, and all i can say is that it gives you what you want... Unlimited Access to the Internet for a one of monthly payment. They never shouted at me for over use, i friend of mine stayed connected nearly all the time. Theres plently of access numbers for BT customers and even if your not with BT other telecom customers can use AOL too. Right, heres the so good stuff :( Don't use AOL Email, turn it off via the control panel unless you want SPAM SPAM SPAM. Don't make a AOL public profile because you will get loads of junk instant messages. The software which you have to use can become a pain and is quite slow. They do give you plently of email and webspace, but these ain't that good and i advise you to signup to external services like Yahoo! Mail and Geocities.. much better and there free. They do give you a free phone number for customer support, but it's really is bad support.

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          08.10.2002 04:49
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          AOL- America Online - is one of the globe's better known Internet Service Prroviders, and they revel in trying to establish themselves as the choice for customer service, with that TV advertising campaign featuring Connie trying to entice you into making a commitment. With the Version 7.0 of their program, the marketing boast is "Making your time online the best over." They also promise an introductory offer of 120 hours free during your first month after signing up and offer you thirty quid if you persuade a friend to sign up with them. They're clearly a bit keen on grabbing you and convincing you their offering is best. I succumbed quite some time ago, drawn their by their flat rate offer of £15.99 a month for unlimited surfing, and despite a few glitches have remained loyal ever since. Of course, when you sign up with AOL they take your credit card details and you have to cancel the contract if you want them to stop charging you. The power of inertia will always make it more difficult for you to fly the coop once you've joined, particularly as it's never nice changing your main e-mail address once you've gotten everyone used to it. As I said, I like AOL, despite some of its more obvious faults, although there are many, many people who remain to be convinced that it's actually any good. Part of the criticism used to be down to AOL's sneaky habit of conning you into accepting their service as the default on your system, but they've listened to many of the criticisms and allow you to opt out if you want to. AOL is pretty easy to load up on your system, although it's reputed to be a bit of a bugger to wipe away once you have installed, and doesn't take too long to set things up properly. As a rule, I don't generally go in for the rather limited browser which comes as a matter of course with AOL, and much prefer Internet Explorer. It's not really a problem, how
          ever, because once you've logged on you can simply open Internet Explorer as well and carry on surfing in the normal way, just leaving AOL running in the background. Favourites and having mutiple windows open is a lot more straightforward in IE than AOL and I've always struggled to get to grips with AOL's offering. One word of warning. If you do have both AOL and IE windows open at the same time, then every time your AOL window changes it takes you to it, no matter what you're doing in IE at the time, which can definitely be a very off putting if it happens at the wrong time. Dial up can often be problematic with AOL and it sometimes takes several lengthy attempts to get online. This is of the bugbears that people usually moan about, and you can see what they mean. AOL doesn't have a maximum online time, although they will often prompt you when you've done nothing for a long period. However, often you can get pretty naff connections and on occasions I've simply had to give up becaus ethe service is so flawed. On the whole, however, I've generally been satisfied. Regarding the main services AOL offers, I'll cadge from their helpful fold out blurb: E-mail - you get seven different addresses, which you can switch between while you're online without losing your connections, and which is quite enough for any standard user, enabling all of the family members to have their own personal communication tool. The e-mail facility is good enough for most uses, although there are better, if more expensive ones around. If you want to check your mail without going on via AOL, you can visit www.aol.co.uk and pick them up via a webmail site in the standard way. Instant messaging - online chat enables you to communicate with any other AOL members who are online at the same time as you, although it's a pretty limited function. I much prefer to use MSN's Windows Messenger or the dozens
          of other superior chat programs there are around. 21 exclusive channels - AOL boasts of its superior online content, and many people appreciate it, but I'm not one of them. I don't generally like portals and I don't find that AOL's version is worth too many visits. Help - there is some good online help provided and AOL provide a freephone advice number on 0800 376 5432 which operates seven days a week and is normally very good. I have to say that aprt from the e-mail function, the only thing which I use AOL for is to go online. All of my browsing is normally carried out on IE. I have seen many other ISP's offering a cheaper flat rate service in recent months, although the inertia of not wanting to change my main e-mail address has always prevented me switching. The thing is, for all its faults, that AOL is a known quantity and I've heard too many dubious things about other providers to really want to run the risk of flying the coop. By and large, I've been satisfied by AOL enough to want to stay with them, although it's more down to limited competition than a particularly marvellous service. PS One thing which is very good about AOL, however, is its global reach and once you've joined you can go online free in most countries of the world, quite simply, just by reconfiguring your set up. Now that is good, and very useful if you tend to do a lot of travelling.

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            22.09.2002 22:48
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            When trying to find a new ISP for my computer, I was literally inundated with different free CDs, downloads and offers from many different companies. However, it was Connie and the adverts that persuaded me to give AOL a go. After all, they are one of the biggest suppliers worldwide and must offer a great service to be so popular. When the 4th CD this year plopped onto the mat at home I decided to install it. Installation of the CD and instructions took about 10 minutes. There is then a small form to fill in depending on which version of software you wish to adopt and the relevant package you opt for. I took the monthly option but not until I got my free 120 hours online. Yes. 120 hours of free online time. This is part of the deal to signing up. You also get up to 7 email addresses,instant messaging, a free helpline and many other benefits. I signed up and was soon surfing the web with ease. Their connectivity is excellent. With Freeserve, I was experiencing problems connecting due to busy lines. AOL are always connectable and that is a big plus. Their homepage (www.aol.co.uk) is great. All access to my account details acan be found here as well as a great search facility and easy to navigate menu options. AOL also offer a keyword service. Type in a keyword and the search engine will fined what you are loking for. This is an American idea and makes the site feel a little alien. As for being built by the Americans, it feels too tailored for an American viewer. The options, terminology and treatment of customers is also very American. One thing that I did not like too much. Prcing is similar to many other slat rate providers. This means I pay one price a month and can use it whenever I want. I pay £15.99 a month for this service. I think its a great service and one I would tell anyone to join.

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              20.08.2002 00:18
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              Ive had AOL flat rate for about nearly 2 years now and to tell the truth its pretty average. It may be the biggest service provider in the world but it sures hell dosnt seem like it. SERVICE Its good. AOL have a free telephone number which you can ring for help. Any other information needed you can find on the internet. Setting up and installing takes quite a while but its relatively good. INTERNET I use a 56k modem and when i usually sign on i get between 40-46k. Its ok but i expected a bit more. The e-mail feature is extremely good. Whenever you sign on you automatically open your e-mail acoount, you can even writ e-mails off line, sign on and instantly send it. There is also a buddy list which is a bit like MSN messenger, but for AOL users only. Thats ok, but its annoying when it loads up at the start. You also recieve 15 exclusive channels which are things like news etc. BROWSER AOl use there own browser, which is stylish and smart. You can open as many windows as you want without the congestion of when using MSExplorer. You can add dirsct links to favourite sites and more. VALUE FOR MONEY For £16 a month and no start up fee, its good. But the service and internet service makes up ends meat. AOL is decent, as i hae said. I havnt tried others so i dont know how good they are.

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                31.07.2002 22:48
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                Well - AOL has never had a good reputation. Amonst people in the know, it's always been steered well celar of. But, at 15.99 a month, I thought I'd try it. And, I haven't regretted it. You can still use internet explorer or netscape to surf the web, and all your other programs (e.g. MSN messenger) will still work. So it is as good as any other ISP. In the whole time I have been with them, I have only ever encountered engaged tones a couple of time, and this is cured by re-dialling. The tech-support is rubbish ()but aren't they always!), but at least it is free. So, for good service, and a good portal (e.g. news, tv guides etc) it is great. And with configurable parental controls, it can be safe for kids too.

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                  28.06.2002 05:53
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                  Well ok then, I'll agree with you. That's not the best deal you've ever seen in your life. But what about id I throw in 7 free email addresses, lots of online content and the perfect way of whiling the hours away when you should be working, studying or cooking tea? Interested? The thing that appeals most for me about AOL is that appeals to everyone in one way or another. For the kids, there's lots of games and fun visual things. For the teens there's chat rooms aplenty, and they're moderated as well so you know that they are safe. And for the adults, well basically, there's everything you could want. From shopping to banking to games to sports features. There's also celebrity web chats every once in a while. Where else could you get the chance to speak to the lovely Holly Valance? And even if the masses on online content doesn't appeal to you, there's nothing stopping you using the built in web browser to access all the www's under the sun. AOL is really straight foward to set up, simple to use and you even get your first month free. So even if you don't like it it's worth giving a go. But however, there are some drawbacks. As with everything popular and worldwide, some things start to get a little stretched. Sometimes the dial up connection isn't as good as you would like. However AOL are bringing in Broadband as we speak which should eliminate this problem, that is if you can pay the rather broadband fee. And although the content does get updated quite regularly, you do start to see the same things popping up every now and again. But all in all, if you are just starting out on the internet, or if you are looking for a new ISP, then you won't go far wrong with AOL. They're not the biggest ISP in the world for nothing you know.

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                    19.06.2002 05:54
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                    • "Slow Pings"

                    I have been using the internet for about 7 years now, and have always avoided AOL because of it`s aweful reputation. One day I got drunk, got fed up of my old ISP always kicking me off after 2 hours and signed up with AOL. I am SO glad I did. I now pay £15 a month for unlimited use of the internet. There is no 2 hour kick-off, no limit to the amount you use it - all very different from most other ISP`s offering flat rate products. I don`t use the AOL content, so I can`t say anything about it in my opinion. All I know is that it is there. When I connect to the internet I just minimise the AOL window and run my normal internet software. I almost always connect first time, and when I do the connection is incredibly stable. I`ve been connected for 72 hour long periods without a break before today. It is also nice and fast - not as fast a broadband but still one of the fastest dial-up connections I`ve ever used. The only part of the connection that isn`t fast is the ping - this can be very high, making AOL useless for online gaming. There is only one other problem with AOL - the lack of SMTP servers. This means that you can`t easily send emails using Outlook Express, or whatever email program you use. Hotmail and other web based email accounts are fine however. If you really want to stick to using your normal email program you need to download a little program called Postcast Server, that acts as a SMTP server (SMTP = Simple Mail Transfer Protocol by the way). Now when you click on send your emails are sent for you. It works exactly like a normal ISP once you have done this. I`m sure you`ll hear lots of bad things about AOL, but they are untrue. AOL is the best ISP I have ever used in my 7 years online. I am planning on sticking with them for a long time yet - you should give them a try as well!

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                      13.06.2002 08:05
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                      I never intended or expected to stay with AOL, I was just using their offer of a free month's access whilst I searched for another provider. I was annoyed with Freeserve when they put their price up by a pound the instant my free trial was over, so I cancelled immediately and found myself in a bit of a fix. AOL were offering a free trial so I used them as a stop gap. I hated it at first because it was so different to Internet Explorer or Netscape. Nor did I like the way it took control of my computer as soon as I logged in. In fact, after a month I phoned to cancel but missed the deadline by a day. I contacted their on-line help (tech-chat) and they told me how to regain control of my computer. Since then, I've needed help on a few occasions and I've found them extremely helpful. Another point in their favour is that they have so many different phone numbers that it is very rare to be denied access. I found uploading a web page frustrating but I have no doubt that the tech-chat guys will offer me any assistanc I need. The daft thing is that they are at least £2 a month dearer than Freeserve at £15.99 but now that I have discovered that I can use Internet Explorer as long as I log in via AOL, I've decided to stay with them. Many ISPs charge 50p a minute for access to their helplines but with AOL its free. Getting as much help as you need when you need it is worth that little extra, so I guess I'll be with them for a while. Update: I am now into my fourth month of AOL and am just as delighted as I was after one month. Getting disconnected whilst on-line is a rare occasion and may be down to occasionally having a collection of devices equivalent of REN 5 or even 6 connected to my phone line.

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                        04.05.2002 01:22
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                        • "Many cut-offs"

                        I will say from the start that I will not, like in other reviews everywhere try to distort the truth in honour of looking at both sides and I will not try saying AOL is good compared to other ISPs that ive never even had. I have had many ISPs, from NTL broadband to tesco.net flat rate, and AOL is the worst ISP ive ever set eyes on. Let me tell you why... Getting set up Now this bit is OK. Setting it up is easy, even for those totally new to computers, it runs along the lines of plug in modem, put in CD, chose modem speed and youre done style. This is one of the easiest ISPs to set-up, but you cannot judge an ISP in this section as all ISPs have virtually the same thing. 9/10 Connection Reliabaility: This part of AOL is an absolute disgrace. As a popular ISP they can do much better here. Looking around almost any site I regularly visit (im an internet gamer, so see this stuff regularly) you can find jokes about how poor AOL is, even cartoons about how often it cuts you off. Putting it in perspective, it isnt like AOL cuts you off every 10 seconds, but it does it a LOT. Nearly 3 times as much as all the other ISPs ive ever had do (15) put together. At certain times of day, certain days in a month and so on, this isnt so bad and it will cut you off, on average, (hard to say an average since it varies WILDLY) once every 3 hours. But at certain times, you can get cut off every 20 minutes, or more. On average do expect to get cut off every 2 hours. This is fine for a very low level internet user, who uses the internet VERY occasionally, but frequent gamers, video watchers, downloaders and morpheus users will find themselves very frustrated. The problem of being cut off affects many even more because in AOLs browser (it doesnt use netscape or internet explorer) if you lose your connection, thats it. You lose what the screen had on it. But on other browsers, if you get cut-off, whilst you cant visit any web-si
                        tes, you can keep what you have already loaded on screen. 0/10 Connection Speed: This is the one that matters most to the most people. The speed of AOL is absolutly pathetic. Whilst most other 56K flat rate-type ISPs have little to decide between them, AOL is the exception. It takes forever to load most websites, downloads are pathetic, and gaming/other applications are even worse, do you have any idea how much band-width the AOL browser takes up???? lets look as these stats I collected: time to load a certain web-page: AOL: varies wildly. 30 secs to 2 minutes (yes, you heard right folks) Free serve: approx. 10 seconds NTL broadband: approx. 1-2 seconds Download speed: AOL: varys a lot here too, often 0.5Kb/sec to 2.8 KB/sec Free serve: 4Kb/sec to 15Kb/sec NTL broadband: 28.8Kb/sec to 45Kb/sec Gaming "ping" (the lower the better, shows performance in other non-web-site/ internet browser applications as well) AOL: 1000- 4095 (the max you can have, makes games and morpeus not usuable) Free serve: 500-800 NTL broadband:50-250 Those speak for themselves. I didnt quite beleive some statistics or bad reviews of AOL before I got it, thinking "come on, these must be biased, AOL is quite popular and how much difference can there be between each ISP". How wrong I was. My advice to you is: beleive in what Ive said. -10/10. I cant even classify this here. Community: This section is actually pretty decent. There are some good message boards, good features and what not. But it isnt THAT good. You can access almost all above mentioned for free anyway without using AOL, and you can get it all in a MUCH better way, with more for free elsewhere anyway. By the way: the instant messaging service AIM is NOT a reason to get AOL, despite what some say> Some of my friends have said things like, get AOL it lets you use AIM. That is NOT a reason
                        as you can get AIM for free without subscribing to AOL. 6/10 Pricing: OK. simply £14.99 a month. But many others offer that too, and MUCH better service. You can even get broadband for that a month, so the price is no excuse to chose AOL over other ISPs. 8/10 Conclusion: This is the worst ISP ive ever encountered. It is ridiculously slow (if you dont beleive how far it is behind in speed, just get AOL to see for yourseld), cuts you off a lot, and often gives you extra advertising (I mean there are many adverts, eg on the home page, log off page... etc). The community on it and its price are nowhere near enough to save it. As far as Im concerned (and the rest of the downloading/gaming community are concerned) there is no reason to choose AOL over others. I do not like to say this, but any review anywhere which provides a good or average out-look and score on AOL is either very unknowledgeable, the writer in question has never used another ISP, hardly ever uses the internet or works for AOL. This is the only service/product ive ever come across that has no real reason for using over its competitors whatsoever. 0/10

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                          03.05.2002 02:54
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                          A house move just over 16 months ago forced me into looking for a new isp as my previous one could not offer me the serive at my new address. One big factor that I required was the ability to be able to use my laptop computer to access the internet using various phoneslines , some would be bt and others would be the local cable operator. After searching for awhile it dawned on me that there only seemed to be AOL who offered such a deal that would allow dialup from anywhere and also came in a unmetered flat rate package. So sign was easy via my Visa card and i also enjoyed my first month virtually free due to the 50 hour free trial that AOL where offering at the time , i believe they now offer 100 hours for the trial. The software ? hmm well you either love it or hate it and to be honest i stay well clear of the browser and only use the software provided to check my email account. Once installed it runs quite well , youchoose the best numbers for your area or phone operator and that is basically that everything else is automatically done for you. Download speeds on my hayes v90 modem where what you should expect and they vary from site to site but i would say they average out in the region of 5 k per sec. Email operates ok with no missing mails etc but if you are a big fan of newsgroups especially the binary kind then do not go near AOL as they do not carry such groups. I have noticed however that since the start of 2002 the speed of browsing and downloading has dropped and the most critical complaint you can have i suppose is the dreaded sound of a engeaged tone. I once spent 40 minutes trying to connect to the site between the hours of 9pm and 9.40 !!! this i find to be totally unaceptable and what made matter worse is i only had the choice of two numbers to dial due to my line being non bt. I would probably say if you are in the hunt for a new isp then try Aol out but i would definatel
                          y shop around .

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                            17.04.2002 22:47
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                            • laughable

                            Stressful computing in one easy step. AOL, I had so much hope for you but you have let me down like a unreliable beau. I find it very hard to connect with the Connie endorsed ISP at certain times of the day, it can take many goes before theres any joy, (35 attempts is the record I think) and then for how long connection will last is anyones guess. Once they have your name on their files lord help your postman, he'll be needing a chiropractor to recover from carrying all those promo cd's to your door. You can try telling them you already subscribe to their service, but just like with everything else AOL has a nasty case of selective deafness. Oh yes and just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, they put the price up. Finally, the only 2 words I have for AOL are "Good" and "Byeeeeeeeee"!

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                              16.04.2002 22:53
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                              • expensive

                              Whether or not you would find AOL useful as an ISP (Internet Service Provider) depends entirely on what you want from the internet and your level of experience with computers in general, dial-up networking in particular and if you have experience of Internet Explorer and Outlook. Let me start by saying that I am fairly confident in setting up my own connect to the internet and prefer to use Internet Explorer for my browser and Outlook for my email. If you are like me and are thinking of subscribing to AOL – DON’T! You can’t use any other mail programs, and it makes life very difficult if you don’t want to browse the Net in the AOL application. It messes with any dial up networking connections you my already have set up and treats you like you know nothing at all. However, if you are new to computers and the Internet, and don’t know the difference between IE and ET, AOL could be for you. If you just want to ‘see’ the Internet and have an email address to write to friends, AOL is the ISP for you. It tries to make your life as simple as possible. This is very frustrating if you know what you’re doing but would help a beginner out a great deal. You basically put the CD into your machine, type in a few details and away you go. There’s no configuring connections or setting up email accounts with POP3 server names here and there. The AOL interface is as simple as possible and if you do have any problems, the helpline is charged at local rate. But, I would only recommend AOL to very beginners, and then only while you find you feet on the Internet. I have recently cancelled my subscription and started with a new ISP and am getting much faster connections and surfing has become enjoyable again, as opposed to the chore that it sometimes was with AOL. My new ISP is PlusNet if anyone is interested in reading the Ops done on it. I won’t go into all the technical specifics that no one i
                              s really interested in (but seem to get gold crowns anyway ;-0) because that won’t help anyone make a decision as to whether get AOL or not. The following table should help – GOOD POINTS: Excellent for beginners Large and active community from chat rooms to AOL instant messaging Reliable connection for downloading (I could leave it connected all night and not be disconnected) Free trial easily available BAD POINTS Expensive (£14.99 per month for unmetered access, about to go up to £15.99) Sometimes difficult to connect (not really specific to AOL however) Spam, Spam, Spam Nightmare if you want to surf with Internet Explorer Cannot use any other mail programs and AOL’s is very basic. Slow connection speeds So, hopefully I’ve provided a balanced review and people will be able to make a more informed choice as to whether AOL would suit them. By the way, the title was to get people to read ; )

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                                04.04.2002 04:17
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                                • "Bad service"

                                I'm angry. Rather angry. You might think its nothing, but it is more than what is being shown. I got an e-mail today from the lovely people at AOL. They told me that AOL are raising their prices for the flat fee. It was bound to happen, internet advertising has been falling dramatically for over a year now, AOL have been through merger after merger, which seems to have resulted in debt after debt, and complaints from those lovely people at freeserve that they should pay VAT. But why does this seem like such a kick in the teeth? I first got AOL when they had finally released flat free access to the general public, since I spend.... a lot of time on the internet (My highest internet bill was £700 in one month), so this seemed like a good choice. Got there, had a look around, connection rate was good, there was a good range of services, the people at AOL were nice, the chat rooms were kept under control, and all was nice. But what has happened recently? Well, if you read the other opinions, people are obviously not happy. The connection rate was good, sure, but was never able to sustain its integrity. The services? Well, if you read my other opinions, you will know I'm a gamer, they had a great range of games, but they all got sent off to EA (Electronic Arts, stupid games company that made FIFA), and the other services, such as the sms text messaging service, were taken down without any warning. The people at AOL have turned more bitter and lazy than ever, and because of this, the chat rooms are in anarchy, leaving the whole experience unbearable. Is everything still nice? No. Also the lovely AOL has decided to release new software every year, and every time you upgrade, it just seems to get worse. AOL 7 eats up more memory than ever, making online gaming virtually impossible with the amount of system resources occupied. Along with this though comes a new bunch of errors and bugs and other nice things. One in particular though, WAOL er
                                rors. Anyone who owns AOL will be cringing right now, and rightly so. But this among other bugs are bringing down the name of AOL into new lows. The way people get disconnected after a short amount of time, and the irratic way that AOL does it is another way that the new AOLs are annoying so many people. But with every new way they try to fix it comes with mixed results. New access numbers are released, all working fine, then after a couple of weeks their quality fluctuates. The new AOL "packs" which claims fixes the bugs, seems like it doesn't do anything. It really is a waste of time that the members of AOL HAVE to endure. Was this mediocre service worth my £15 per month? NO! But now they've delivered the final blow. They're charging me, a student, a type of people constantly in debt, an extra pound per month. It might not seem like a lot, it isn't a lot, but it really is just an insult against everyone that has put up with the rubbish AOL Time Warner and any other major company they want to string along to that list has delivered throughout the years. The future doesn't look good for AOL. But this is still getting 2 stars, because regardless of all its faults, its still one of the only competent free services available that doesn't have a disconnect after x number of hours. Although I would prefer being disconnected after a certain amount of hours, at least I would then know when I was being disconnected. Rest asured though, a shorter version of this is most certainly going to watchdog some time in the future.

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                                • More +
                                  17.03.2002 17:11
                                  Very helpful
                                  (Rating)
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                                  Advantages

                                  Disadvantages

                                  Finding a reliable ISP nowadays is rather a daunting task, you either find that you are never able to connect to them at peak times or that the lesser known ISP’s disappear without a trace. I have had several but the only one that I would recommend is AOL. AOL is very different to your average ISP, due to the fact that it runs everything under it’s own browser, this means that you can receive and send mail, chat and lots more without having to open any other programme if you wish. There are many excellent features available in the latest version AOL 7.0, some of which I will tell you about in this review. INSTALLATION ¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤ Nearly everyone will at some point receive one or more, (usually more!!), AOL trial CD’s through their letterbox, and if you are thinking of trying it you really need the CD, you can download it from www.aol.com but it is a whopping file and would take a huge amount of time to download, alternatively by visiting this page you can request a CD or phone call to order one or register with AOL. Once you have the CD you simply install the software, once completed you can choose a user name (screen name) and password, the user name will also be your Aol email address. The free trial lasts 1 month, although it does say that you will receive 100 hours free, this is not the case in fact Aol will not now charge you a penny for a whole month even if you use 1000 hours, this means that you can stay online 24/7 if your that keen!. After a month you will then be charged £14.99 this again is for totally unlimited use, with no hidden charges whatsoever. FEATURES ¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~ AOL BROWSER •¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤• Once you connect to AOL, you will get the welcome screen and if a first time user the talking computer companion Connie, she is there to help you settle in to AOL
                                  and guide you around. Everything else is dotted around the screen and toolbar in order to make your AOL surfing experience a doddle…. EMAIL •¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤ The built in email allows you to register up to 7 email addresses for each account, this also means that you can have up to 7 different users on one computer each with their own individual AOL window. The plus feature here is for anyone with young children you can set a screen name as a minor and all they will get upon connecting is the children’s AOL, this is similar to the adults of course but all the welcome and menu’s are children’s of course, this comes complete with homework help, children’s modified chat, competitions and lots more. This ensures that your child can surf the web safely and cannot load any other pages other than the AOL children’s pages etc. At the top left of the browser are the email icons, read and write mail, as soon as any new emails arrive you are told “ you have email” and the read icon turns red to remind you. PEOPLE •¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤ Two choices here, the built in AOL messenger also knows as AIM, this is very similar to most instant messengers feature wise allowing you to instant message people, add them to your buddy list and have chats in small groups. You do not need to be an AOL member in order to use this messenger as anyone can download it from the AOL site. Chat And Communications •¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤• ;¤•¤•¤ Various chat community’s available here and hosted chats, you can even make your own chat room for others to join, from time to time there are celebrity chats and special topical chats, these are always advertised on your welcome screen. SERVICES •¤•¤R
                                  26;¤•¤•¤•¤ Lots to browse here from shopping, to horoscopes, weather maps, calendars and more, you can also alter the parental controls from this section too. CUSTOMISE •¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤ From here you can customise your AOL preferences, the following are available under this heading: 1.Change your password 2.Set up controls 3.Set up your buddy list 4.Save your favourite web pages 5.Manage your personal filing cabinet 6.Change your view preferences 7.Set up a calendar and reminders 8.Set up online groups For anyone wondering the filing cabinet is the place where you can store pictures or pages etc, for later viewing. INTERNET ¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤~¤ This takes you to the online AOL pages, search, help, news groups, FTP, also at the left of the browser is a menu bar with 21 channels of pages to choose from most exclusive to AOL. KEYWORDS •¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤ A very useful and innovative idea, you can access various pages and sections merely by typing in one word in the keyword box. All the keywords are listed incidentally in case you get stuck, but it really speaks for itself, for instance typing in “Dictionary”, will bring up an online dictionary of course, type “ billing” and you get various choices such as view your bill, next payment date and modify price plan etc. Apart from all the features you can use it simply as a browser and just type in the required web address in the top address bar. CONNECTION •¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤•¤• When you first set your AOL up, you are given a list of numbers to connect to these are based on your home telephone number and ideally the ones most suited for your likelihood of getting connected. You can select up to 9 of these and
                                  if the first is engaged it will work through them until it connects. Most of these numbers are 0808 with the exception of the 0800 numbers for non BT users only. VERDICT ¤~¤~¤~¤~¤ AOL is by far the best ISP I have used, I have never had any problems connecting even in peak times, it is a lot faster than most others too. Connection is another factor as with AOL there is no cut off time, you can remain on for 24 hours a day if you so wish, this is excellent for downloading games or MP3’s as you can guarantee a big download always gets lost if you only have several hours before you need to reconnect. Technical advice is available free via an 0800 number, so no costly calls here, but if you prefer you can even get this actually online, various chats connect you to a one to one advisor who will solve your query in the chat box, another super idea. Now for anyone who likes do use other things AOL will happily run along side with other browsers and also email programmes, any pop3 mail can be collected with no problem whilst on AOL. This is perfect for anyone who wants to use AOL sometimes but likes their old browser better, simply minimize AOL and that’s it, you wont even know it’s there! Help to is always at hand and any beginner would find AOL extremely useful, dear old Connie (who you may have seen on TV advertising AOL), becomes a cartoon helper and will guide you around show you how to do things and even try and talk to you, once you have had enough of Connie and believe me that wont be long, simply click no thank you when she loads up and she’s gone forever… So you must be thinking what are the disadvantages of AOL? Well not a lot really from my point of view, the only gripe I have is that if you do use AOL as your browser you can only use one window at a time, each has to be put to the bottom before you can access another so you cannot vie
                                  w 2 at once. The only other is that it does take a while to load AOL up before you can connect compared to normal ISP’s but this is hardly worth worrying about. I certainly would recommend them to anyone looking for a reliable ISP, and with a whole month free what have you got to lose, give it a try.

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