Internet in a Box, Version 2.0

By McCulley, P. Michael | Online, January-February 1996 | Go to article overview

Internet in a Box, Version 2.0


McCulley, P. Michael, Online


There are many ways to launch yourself and your computer onto the Internet these days. You can pick and choose from private Internet Service Providers (ISPs), go through an educational or corporate gateway, or perhaps obtain your service via one of the large commercial online company gateways to the Internet, such as America Online (AOL), Prodigy, or CompuServe (CIS).

CompuServe, which purchased the software company, SPRY, Inc., in March 1995, has blended its online and Internet "worlds" to make them seamless for end-users. It also offers an all-in-one software package to bridge these worlds; the latest incarnation is Internet In A Box, Version 2.0, or "IBox" for short. Here we'll review the software, along with Compuserve, and take it "out of the box" and onto the Internet. The version we're test-driving is for Windows 3.1, but SPRY promises a Windows 95 version soon.

Internet In A Box has won several awards, including 1994 Datamation Product of the Year, BYTE Magazine's 1994 Award of Merit, The Best of Times from Lan Times, and PC Computing's Four Stars ("Internet In A Box: Your Best Bet for an Internet Suite."). Let's look at this rising star.

A QUICK START WITH IBOX

What's in the brown box? The Internet In A Box brown box is easily visible in retail outlets. It is priced at $149, but look for $99 deals. The box contains everything you'll need to get going on the Internet (and Compuserve), including:

* Complete integrated Windows-based

software suite of SPRY

Mosaic, mail, news reader, gopher,

Network File Manager (NFM) for

FTP, telnet, a dialer, and a multimedia

(GIF and JPEG) viewer * CompuServe's Windows Information

Manager (WinCIM), to

allow graphical access to Compu-Serve * Demo software for Internet and

Internet In A Box tours * Internet Access Phonebook software

and a configuration utility

software * Five shrink-wrapped floppy disks * Excellent documentation, including

a special edition of Ed Krol's,

The Whole Internet User's

Guide; Installation and Configuration

Guide, Getting Started

with InterServ and Compu-Serve,

and SPRY Connect Internet

Service Guide

To run Internet In A Box on your computer, you'll need these minimum system requirements:

* MS-DOS 3.0 or later * Windows 3.1 or later * 4MB of RAM * 9600 baud or faster modem (Hint:

plan on a minimum 14.4 for

routine use, and 28.8 for best

performance.)

To get started, unwrap the software. Disk 1 has the standard Windows File/Run to run the program SETUP.EXE for easy installation. On my 386/DX at home, the full five-disk install took 14 minutes. The full software consumed a little over 10.5MB on my hard drive. The next step is to connect to the Internet, since you must use a PPP or SLIP connection to the Net to use IBox.

BEHIND-THE-CONNECTIONS

WITH IBOX

You really have two choices for your Internet In A Box connection:

1) Virtually instantaneous sign-up

and logon via Compuserve's

InterServ network (credit card

needed) 2) Connection by manually configuring

the software to run a SLIP/PPP

connection via an Internet service

provider

The first choice is painless, and I chose that route for this review and evaluation. The software handled the details - I didn't need port numbers, host addresses, nada - just my credit card number and mother's maiden name for security purposes. It selected the best local node for dial-up, and I was online on a CIS node to the Internet within five minutes. (If you're not in a local node area, you can use the 800 number for access - though that's more expensive.)

User Caveat: While access via the Compuserve node worked fine and is a great interim solution or a start-up mode for inexperienced users, it is too expensive for long-term, routine use. …

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