Just as I finally got the e-reader on our recent trip, I also finally really get push email. Basically it means that the email will get to your phone as long as its on a network somewhere, without the phone having to periodically poll the server which wastes connection time.
And of course the service can be refined to strip out graphics and the like so all you get is text on your phone.
Now, unlike last year, we had a lot of trouble with wifi access, but having email automatically update on your phone everywhere we went (except Greece and strangely France) meant we were always in email contact, meaning we could send and receive email from just about everywhere, be it emailing my niece about the introductory Farsi texts stocked by Blackwell’s in Oxford from a pub opposite (Don’t ask, the explanation is perfectly logical but tedious and complicated) or being able to show the car rental agent the booking reference number in an email on my phone (the no printer while travelling problem)
And it meant that when someone did need to get in contact they could. Basically it gives email the utility and pervasiveness of text messaging, but infinitely more useful as it’s also in your inbox when you finally get online to manage your email.