Head-to-Head: Empower vs. BBSmart

Michael Kerfeld, an enthusiastic reader of BBCool, has submitted a great head-to-head review of Empower versus BBSmart HTML e-mail viewers. Head-to-head will be a new BBCool feature where we make two competing products slug it out until one emerges the victor. If you’d like to review for BlackBerry Cool, contact us.

We all know that the Blackberry Bold is coming, and with it RIM’s new, highly anticipated OS 4.6. A sneak peek of the features have been revealed, as well as to those using beta copies of the OS 4.5 on their current devices. RIM has given everything a touch up with fresher fonts, a more pleasant browsing experience, and snappier performance. OS 4.5 even brings a facelifted email viewer, but HTML email viewing still remains a thing of the future for those of us without an Enterprise Service activation or a carrier with BIS version 2.5. The days of endless URL strings continue.

This is an area where $30 can go a long way to make email viewing much more efficient and less frustrating – and here I will tell you which program is the best choice.
First, I will go over what email looks like in RIM’s new OS 4.5. While the beta version on my device is certainly not a final product, I believe that the visual aspect of email will remain the same in the final release, so its presentation here is relevant as a comparison.

Worth noting is the new ‘bubble’ format that the emails take on, which certainly brings new appeal to the look. Automatic bolding of the subject is a nice touch as well, which is a recurring theme throughout OS 4.5. Overall a very attractive upgrade to email viewing.

Upgrade, yes. Total fix? Hardly. Image support and hyperlink integration still remain as two glaring omissions from RIM’s latest operating offering, and I fail to understand why their development has not been pushed to the forefront.

Not to worry – Empower and BBSmart are two worthy programs that can feed your need for images, links, smilies, and even marbleized backgrounds in your Blackberry emails that would rival the Meat Packing District’s finest.

Comments [6 Responses]

June 5th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Nice review. As a BBSmart user, its interesting to see this “head to head” and I look forward to more of these from BBCool. I personally wouldn’t weight the differences as heavily in Empower’s favor as you do, but having not used Empower for any extended period of time it’s hard to say if my opinion would change were I able to do so.

Questions though. You state at the end: “Viewing emails as presented by Empower will not be possible with RIM’s release of OS 4.5″. So Empower does not work with the 4.5’s that are floating around? What about BBSmart, I don’t see a mention of BBSmart in relation to the 4.5 beta’s, Was it even tried?

Also, you mention the trial version of BBSmart, but no mention if a trial version of Empower is available?

And I actually kinda LIKE that BBSmart brings along its own fonts. It is thus more device independent I would think?

Vagrant Pistol
June 5th, 2008 at 11:36 pm

I have 4.5.021 on my BB Curve and Empower Pro works just fine!

June 6th, 2008 at 12:12 pm

Thanks for replying MK. I am curious though, why BBSmart is so downgraded in your mind when it operates almost identically to the built-in web browser, and to Viigo? Reading an email with BBSmart is essentially like reading an article in Viigo, pictures have to be downloaded and inserted inline and BBSmart just shows you that dialog box so you know what’s happening (unlike Viigo or Browser or apparently Empower). I guess to each his (or her) own, but seems to ME that’s a BENEFIT to BBSmart if Empower doesn’t give you the opportunity to abort downloading pictures if one wants to get at the “meat” of an email quickly. At EDGE download speeds it seems to me that could be very frustrating if the email isn’t displayed until all the pictures are downloaded. But perhaps I’m just not understanding how Empower does it and how it is so much better in that aspect than BBSmart (or Viigo, or Browser, or Opera, or …).

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