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Treo does Blackberry! Finally...

If you use your Treo 600 for email you've probably run across SnapperMail which has been widely regarded as the best client for POP and in the current beta for IMAP as well.  The UI and support for many devices is great but, as anyone testing things out will have noticed, the price for IMAP is $60 (which is available as part of SnapperMail's Enterprise edition whereas the Lite edition is $29.95).

VersaMail which is now owned and developed by PalmOne is a nice client and supports POP and IMAP, but only supports syncing the Inbox which might fall short for what many power users are looking for... The Treo email client does some background tricks not available to users of other clients which make it attractive, but it only supports POP, not IMAP which many users (like me) prefer to manage status of messages read and replied (amongst other reasons) while on the go.

Chatter Email (only download site at the moment), formerly IMChatter is a new very serious contender in this space. The previous version would allow for email as well as IM alerts and conversations through more of an IM interface.  Today's beta release changes all that and I have to say it looks pretty killer for $25.  In addition to becoming a richer email and IM client (please note that you will have to send an email separately to get setup on Chatter's server for IM), you can get full background send and receive capabilities for your messaging needs! 

This is an amazing treonaut feat and I have a feeling that Chatter will become extremely popular - just imagine simply turning your Treo 600 on and finding your new messages have conveniently already arrived without the tedious need to 'Check Mail'.  The message view area is the only thing lacking a bit in my book.  It's not as clean as the SnapperMail way, but background "push" capabilities override many details.  Besides...  I bet things will just get even better as today's release shows.

Chatter Email is the first mail application for the Treo 600 that comes seriously close to matching the "Blackberry-like" push mail service. In fact, we believe it outperforms the Blackberry service because Chatter Email doesn't rely on an additional server piece, though it does require the mail server to support IMAP. The second "killer feature" is background synchronization, something that is available in the built-in Treo Mail but not in SnapperMail. Marc is definitely pushing the "multi-tasking" boundaries of OS5 by combining push mail with background synchronization. Finally, Chatter is priced at a one-time license fee of $25 and Marc has promised that this low price includes free upgrades for life! [mytreo.net]

After a day or so of use and another beta release (v1.0.7), I have some additional thoughts to share... Chatter allows for a couple of cool tricks since it can run in the background. 

  • You can get a pop-up message with notification as well as the actual message when a new mail arrives while you're working in other applications. 
  • Making a call with your headset and a new message arrives... you can read and reply - FROM the phone screen.
  • While it politely runs in the background, you can leave your Treo in Sleep mode and turn it on to find new messages waiting to be read and filed -- in ALL your IMAP folders.
  • You can sync up to 8 server side folders, which means if you have server side filtering running with Procmail, you can be notified on more specific messages. My personal usage is to leave notification off, since I know mail will just appear as it comes in and so I just check my Treo when I want to read mail. This is really a great thing as my Treo no reconnects to the network as I pass through spaces that don't have connectivity (subway in NY) and constantly polls for mail.

My experience is on Treo 600 running on T-Mobile. Usage may and I believe does vary of CDMA (Sprint and Verizon) networks based on hows tasks and as a result battery life is managed.

This post kindly contributed by Jonathan Greene.


Posted by Andrew on August 24, 2004 at 09:37 AM

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by Lou | Aug 24, 2004 8:16:50 PM

I am a fan of chatter but IMAP and blackberry are the same. My company supports blackberry and not IMAP, not even webmail. Basically, you have to be on a company laptop or a blackberry to get email. I guess you would call that over-secure, but I think it kind of makes sense. I only wish they had a secure solution that would push email to my Treo.

by Jonathan Greene | Aug 26, 2004 9:04:26 AM

I am in a similar boat... In interesting method to work around this is through my carrier, T-Mobile. They offer a n email connector service for POP3, IMAP, Lotus and Exchange. I am able to enter my work email info and pull through their site via the web. Once the accounts are established, they offer a special POP3 address (wish it was IMAP so it would work with Chatter!) which I can use to check mail while on the go. It's not ideal, but it does work.

I am not sure if in your situation, mail will still be blocked... If you use T-Mobile, it's certainly worth a shot.

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