Love it or hate it, the Blackberry has indeed become the device of choice for a lot of mobile enthusiasts, especially those who want to conduct business on the move. Another category of users are those, who more out of peer pressure than anything else, find themselves clutching one, not considering the fact that they can barely afford it and greatly ignorant to the advantages the device confers. These are the set of people that would rather offer their BB pins than their mobile numbers, no “credit” for phone calls.
And for those of us who are torn between loving and hating this range of devices, we would quickly list the following as some of the reasons why we have not caught the Blackberry bug;
– You can not use BlackBerry effectively unless you have a BlackBerry Internet plan. You are effectively tied to the apron strings of your network provider because without it, there is no blackberry messenger or email support.
– Theoretical “unlimited” data usage limited by the less than 3MB download limit using the in-built BlackBerry Browser and email client, a restriction placed by Blackberry.
– Less features compared to phones of similar or even lesser pricing
– Constant access to work.Your boss and co-workers will expect constant communication, ignoring company emails can have negative effects. This is especially true if your BlackBerry is provided by an employer with demanding deadlines.
– Blackberry devices and Internet Plan are rather expensive and unaffordable to many.
Grudgingly, we have also identified the following as the advantages or the edge blackberry devices have over other smartphones;
– They use up much less wireless network capacity to complete the same tasks, but some attribute this to the crappy, outmoded Web browser that doesn’t deliver comparable modern Web experience.
– Longer battery life
– Most Blackberries have usable QWERTY keyboards, so you can actually type fast and with no errors
But one major feature that is really the envy of most is the Email Superiority. This was also our summation in a related post, in which we limited its efficiency only to the quality of internet services being offered by the mobile networks.
So what exactly are the features of Blackberry email messaging that separates it from the rest?
Email was the original purpose of BlackBerry devices and even after numerous operating system changes and upgrades, the email program still works much like it always did. BlackBerry is a Pioneer of Push Email. Wikipaedia describes PUSH EMAIL as e-mail systems that provide an always-on capability, in which new e-mail is actively transferred (pushed) as it arrives by the mail delivery agent (MDA) (commonly called mail server) to the mail user agent (MUA), also called the e-mail client. E-mail clients include smartphones and, less strictly, IMAP personal computer mail applications.Your emails, Calender are synced all the time.
Some alternatives were analyzed, Seven and Emoze email clients were listed among the best. However, these email clients are limited by their functionality. They act mostly by polling emails from email servers on a scheduled basis and pulls any messages into unique folders in your device. This process, apart from the fact that you do not get your mails in real time, it also drains your battery heavily.
I took it upon myself to find a more satisfying and equally efficient alternative to the Blackberry, an alternative where i am not required to use any particular device and to a large extent, play by my own rules and not that dictated by any network.
Microsoft Exchange Hosting does pretty much all what Blackberry does and will work across lots of devices. You can pick up any symbian device and either use the free Mail4Exchange or the more reliable RoadSync which is not free. You can also use activesync with your Mobile Outlook for Windows Mobile devices, your iPhone, Android, Palm or just about any device that supports Microsoft Exchange. In a full Exchange environment, not only is everything synced at the server with the mobile device, and depending on your subscription, you would also get a free copy of Outlook 2007 for your home computer as part of the deal and that would also be synced with the server. So changes to your email, calendar, notes or contacts made on, say, your computer will update the server and the mobile. Everything is synced and pushed in real time.
|mail2web Mobile Email
($4.95 or N750/month)
|mail2web Mobile EmailPro ($9.95 or N1500/month)|
|Outlook Web Access||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|POP3, IMAP4 and SMTP||NO||Yes||Yes|
|BlackBerry Service Add-On||NO||Yes||Yes|
|Outlook 2007/2010 (Windows)||NO||NO||Yes|
|Entourage 2008 (Mac)||NO||NO||Yes|
To effectively get a blackberry-like service on your smartphone, all you need is the mobile Email Plan going for $4.95 per month (about 750 Nigerian Naira).
From the chart, BlackBerry Service Add-On simply means that if you have a Blackberry device, you can avoid subscribing to any mobile network. All you need do is pay a minimum of $4.95 for a mobile Email Plan, then an additional $9.95 for a Blackberry service add-on, making a total of $14.90 (about N2,250 per month).
You would still need to subscribe to one of the low cost monthly data plan from, well, the mobile networks. A 50MB plan is more than sufficient, but I doubt if there is any. Etisalat and Airtel (Zain) have a 100 MB data plan for N1,000 per month. But if you’ll rather use Microsoft Outlook, you do not need a mobile data plan for this.
So with just N1,750 per month (could be less), I can effectively rival blackberry services.
But why dabble in uncertainties? Thankfully, mail2web.com is offering a 60 day trial, so you have a long time to test their services before subscribing. However, you will need to leave your card details but you can cancel if you wish. Nigerian Cards Accepted.
You do not have to host your domains with mail2web.com or tamper with your Nameservers in anyway, like some providers may require you to, to subscribe to their services.
The only thing close to a snag that I have noticed is that you are required to create an email address in the form firstname.lastname@example.org, this is the default address mails from all mailboxes would be sent from. You are also required to enable email forwarding from as many mailboxes as you want to this mail box. This is easily done in gmail and CPanel hosted emails. However, the process of changing the default address that mails would be sent from is not very straight forward.