Prodigy Internet Service
$9.95/month 10 hours
Among the giants of Internet service, Prodigy is one of the oldest. It stands out as one of the Big Three. Recently, though, the major online services and ISPs have pushed Prodigy further down the line. The Classic service was always deemed one of the greatest. Now, with the growing fame of the home-town ISP, Prodigy has stepped into the light and created Prodigy Internet, a service resembling the easy-to-use ISP many of us have come to know.
I have always been an avid AOL fan myself. I stuck with AOL through the tough times of 1996 and 1997. The service was easy to use and had the cool features I wanted. The learning was easy, and the connection was good. Or so I thought… I now find myself ready to drop America Online and use my new found favorite, Prodigy Internet.
Prodigy offers a free month of access when you join, with no obligation. Regular monthly fees are simple. You can have the unlimited plan for $19.95 a month. The lighter users of America can join with the Basic 10 plan ($9.95 for ten hours per month). Free software is given when you join, and free technical support is available 24 hours a day. With all that speaking for it, I gave it a try.
The software was easy to install and setup. It practically does everything you need to have done. The only installation problem I had was the fact that the version of FreePPP installed was a few versions behind. Of course, that is to be expected with CD-ROM software that was burned months ago. This version works fine to get you online, but you will want to upgrade to the latest version (soon to be 2.6) as soon as you can (for added features and ease of use). Even more, you will want to upgrade your Netscape Navigator version to 3.01 or 4.0 (Prodigy comes with version 3.0).
I connected to the service on the first try and setup my account in minutes. The program has a look reminiscent of America Online’s software, sign-on screen and “navigation bar” included. The actual program for signing on was not too appealing to me, and the navigation bar seemed to get in the way. The solution: forget the program and simply set FreePPP to sign on and launch Netscape when you tell it to. This bypasses the small Prodigy sign-on program and, for me at least, made things quicker and easier. Now, I just choose “Open PPP Connection” from my FreePPP control strip and let it do everything for me. The service is looking good so far.
On to the real scoop. Speed! On AOL 3.0, you have two choices to get onto the Internet, both of which include using their slow-as-molasses “AOL Link” extension. Netscape fans have to run Netscape over AOL, wasting precious RAM in the process. Internet Explorer fans… well, they have the technologically deprived, broken-down, built-in browser that AOL supplies. Thus, the end product with both cases is a slower and less reliable connection to the Internet. Prodigy, on the other hand, is a direct connection to the Internet using nothing but FreePPP and Netscape. RAM deprived users will enjoy the experience. And while Prodigy uses proxy servers for the connection, their servers are amazingly fast. With my 28.8 connection to the Internet, I would frequently get above and beyond 33.6 throughput at all times. With AOL, I would rarely get my modem to top 28.8. Pages respond faster, sites load more quickly, and downloads are amazingly speedy. Basically, I was astonished at the speed when I compared it to my AOL connection.
Now take note… Prodigy Internet is exactly what it says: The Internet. Prodigy Internet has no fancy “exclusive” areas like AOL boasts. With that thought in mind, though, I still prefer Prodigy for its reliability and speed. Prodigy has complete access to Newsgroups and Internet chat services, something AOL users cannot experience. On Prodigy, you can choose the Internet program you like best for certain features. There are no limitations… Global Chat, Newsreader, Anarchie, Fetch, and other fine Internet programs are at your disposal.
All in all, Prodigy Internet surprised me. It was easy to use, fast, reliable, and gave me more choices and abilities than America Online ever has. The number has yet to be busy, I have yet to have a problem with the connection, I have not had to call technical support, and have not been given any bothersome warning signals telling me how long I have been online. Both services have their advantages, but when it comes to disadvantages, Prodigy Internet simply has none. If you’ve been thinking of a move from your current Internet service, take a look at Prodigy Internet.
To get your free month, visit their Web page at http://www.prodigy.com. Or, call them at 1-800-213-0992 and have them send you the setup CD. Check with them for the availability of access numbers. You should have System 7.5 or higher, 16 MBs of RAM, 20 MBs of available space on your hard drive, and a 14.4 modem (28.8 recommended).
Shay Fulton (firstname.lastname@example.org)