The latest version of Thunderbird, Mozilla's email client, lets you add a Gmail account without entering any other detail than your email address. The account wizard's poor wording might mislead people into thinking that Gmail is not a mail service, and it also forgets you to tell you how to enable POP3 in Gmail.
Among other new features, Thunderbird 2.0 adds message tagging, saved searches, more descriptive alerts that include email snippets.
Even if you like Gmail's web interface, a mail client is still useful to backup your email and for reading your messages offline. If you use multiple email clients, your Gmail messages are available only to the first client that requests them. To change that, replace email@example.com with recent:firstname.lastname@example.org in your client's settings.