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Review Of Online Services This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   In this review I will point out the ups and downs of all major online services including America Online, CompuServe, GEnie, Prodigy, Delphi, The ImagiNation Network and Nova Link.



America Online

This service is very attractive with colorful graphics around every corner; it is user-friendly, and very easy to use. The rates are also very cheap; the monthly membership is $9.95 which includes five free hours and now AOL has reduced its hourly rates, it is only $2.65 every additional hour, which includes no surcharge for 9600 baud users, and unlimited e-mail, uploads, and downloads. With all the ups, there had to be a downside, right? Wrong. There are no setbacks at all on the whole service, only once in a while is there a small delay because of its growing number of users.



CompuServe

This is the largest service there is, and I have no idea why. It's not user-friendly, and is hard to get used to. This service is more for experienced modem users. The charges are a little high, with $9.95 a month, with no free hours, and $4.50 for every additional hour if you have a 2400 baud modem, and $9.60 if you have a 9600 baud modem. Despite the high prices, if you know your way around CompuServe, it is pretty good. It has extensive libraries of games to download and a very good e-mail setup.



GEnie

This is one of the smaller services aimed at the more game-oriented modem users. Its prices are fair: $8.95 per month with four free hours and $3.00 an hour for 2400 baud modem users, $6.00 an hour for 9600 baud users, while there is a $9.50 surcharge for prime time use. Like I said, this is mostly for computer game players, but also has appeal for other players with its beautiful color graphical navigator. Some of the popular games on this service are: Air Warrior and The Hundred Years War.



Prodigy

Quite possibly the most popular online service, Prodigy is one of the oldest. Its charges are reasonable: $9.95 a month, and $2.95 an hour. When Prodigy first started up, every time you clicked the mouse, there was another advertisement at the bottom of the screen. Nowadays, they have really cut down on ads. This is a very user-friendly service and is easy to set up. This service is more for families than anything else. Prodigy always edits the message boards, so if you parents worry about your kids getting into something they shouldn't, it won't happen on Prodigy. On the down-side, though, to download files is extra, depending on what you want.



Delphi

This is a virtually unknown service to most people. Its rates are great with $9.95 a month with four free hours, or $19.95 a month with twenty free hours. After that, it's only 96 cents an hour. The main attraction of Delphi is its Internet access; it's hard to navigate your way through the Internet, but with the new GUI (Graphical User Interface) on the way, it should be an up and coming service.



The Imagination Network

This network, formerly known as the Sierra Network, has changed to a unique interface. Instead of menus, you are looking down on a town, just click where you want to go, like the post office to send e-mail, and you're there. The charges are a bit high, at $10.95 a month with five free hours, and $3.50 every additional hour. This service is fairly new and is aimed at children more than adults, although there is a section called Casino Land, which is restricted to adults only.



Nova Link

This is a normal service with charges of $9.95 a month and $3.60 an hour. The only good feature I found on this service worth the money was its Internet access with sound and video capabilities. u



Overall Ratings:

America Online: A-

CompuServe: B+

GEnie: D

Prodigy: A

Delphi: C-

Imagination Net: B

Nova Link: F


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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