From the May 1997 issue of Entrepreneur

Hate to type? Don't write e-mail; say it--using Bonzi Software's "Voice E-Mail," customized applications that neatly slide into America Online, CompuServe, Microsoft Exchange and Eudora Internet e-mail ($29.95).

The limit on a message is one minute, but that's as long as many phone answering machines allow. For added impact, scan in an image (a photo of yourself, your product or company logo) that sits on the screen as your message plays.

Bonzi's program is easy to use (requirements are a sound card and a microphone), and since most of us talk two to three times faster than the best typists type, voice mail is swiftly created.

Are voice messages data monsters? Bonzi compresses a message down to 100KB to 200KB--a minute or two is plenty for uploading and downloading. One hitch: Recipients need the Bonzi voice player to hear your message, but it's a free download, available at (http://www.bonzi.com/freeplay/vemplay.htm).

One For The Books

Often it's frustrating to search for any but the latest titles in a bookstore. A powerful solution is Amazon Books (http://www.amazon.com). Boasting a million-book inventory and an easy-to-use search tool (searches can be done by author name, title or subject), Amazon sells most books at a discount (up to 20 percent) and will deliver your selections within a few days. Better buys on bestsellers can be had at local chain outlets, but for less popular titles, Amazon is the place to shop. The site is also one of the best Web retail operations--it's fast, convenient and easy to use. Anybody selling via the Net--or hoping to--should pay a visit.

Bargain Bytes

Need a bare-bones computer for word processing? Want to add a CD-ROM drive on the cheap? The furious pace of technological innovations means plenty of serviceable gear has had its prices slashed--and these deeply discounted wares are available through Jem Computers Inc. (http://www.jemcomp.com).

A recent visit found an NEC Versa Notebook (DX4/75) for $699, an NEC desktop computer (Pentium, with a 6X CD-ROM) for $1,099, and a range of bargain-basement scanners, servers, tape drives and monitors.

Turnover is brisk--by press time, you won't find these exact items, but there will be plenty more. All are major name brands; most are factory refurbished, but some are new; all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Nightly News

News outlets have proliferated on the Web, but the hassle in reading newspapers online is waiting for pages to download--even a quick flip through a morning paper can turn into a 15-minute chore. The better way: Get your news while you sleep, with The PointCast Network (www.pointcast.com), a free download service that searches CNN, major newspapers (including the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Boston Globe), weather reports, financial market results, and a long list of user-customized information sources.

PointCast's news-gathering can take up to half an hour, but the twist is that the software does all the work itself, at a time of your choosing. Set up the search for, say, 6 a.m., and when you get to work, the day's news is already on your desktop.

Updates can be had throughout the day, at intervals determined by you. Software installation and setup are a snap: This highly user-friendly program operates as a Netscape plug-in or a stand-alone product.

How is something this good free? Rumors are brisk that PointCast may begin charging for extra, premium content, but most of the content will stay free for the foreseeable future, with advertising paying the freight.

Contact Sources

Jem Computers Inc., (800) 536-2037;

PointCast Inc., (408) 253-0894.