Finally, it seems that Google engineers have heeded the call with the announcement of offline access for Gmail as a Gmail Labs feature. Like all Labs-realated announcements, it'll take some time before all users (especially ones outside the US like me) get access to his new feature but I'm willing to wait a little more. Given the quality of my internet connection as of late, having offline access to my Gmail account even just when my internet connection is acting up a bit without fully disconnecting is a god send and I'm really excited.
Actual reviews of the new service to follow once I've had a chance to test it out.
Offline Gmail (in Gmail Labs)