Head-to-Head: Empower vs. BBSmart

25 Comments

75I am a rather dull guy when it comes to picking a color scheme with which to read my emails, so I chose a white background and black text.

Advanced Options gives you choices such as whether to automatically use Empower to open all, none, or only certain messages (email, PIN, and sent being the selections). Other options here are self explanatory, with the exception of URL parsing, which can be explained best by the Empower Staff: “New Option: Added an option under Advanced options to set Strict/Lenient URL Parsing. Leniant parsing of urls allows { } etc in the urls which are “technically” disallowed.”

16I am not a Pocket Day user, so I cannot attest to its integration ability with Empower.
Image Display Options gives you very usable options for how Empower handles images. This will come in particularly handy for those of you without unlimited data plans.

Finally, options for Task and Calendar Integration are present should you want to change how these features behave. I found that the out-of-the-box settings worked just fine for me.

So enough jibber jabber, let’s see some emails. First up is a friendly Mother’s Day reminder from my Dad, strictly text. As you can see, the look is familiar, but also more compact.

Next we have my Zune Spring Update. Yes folks, I use a Zune – my email is listed at the end of this review and I will try hard to respond in a timely manner to the impending iFlames.

As images load, they appear in real-time while others load in sequence. A small image placeholder with the familiar data-transfer arrows lets us know that the images are being fetched.

Beautiful. An accurate representation of what the original email looks like, with full image and link support. Images that are wider than your screen’s resolution are automatically resized to fit, keeping the aspect ratio.

Let’s look at this large-image handling once more, just for effect. The following email contains the same image in three increasing sizes:

The above image, at 800 pixels wide, was automatically resized to fit on my 8300′s screen – very cool.

Being the democratic program that it is, Empower always gives you the option to view an email in the way it would appear without Empower installed, using the “Toggle HTML/Text” option. I am not sure why one would do such a thing, but it’s nice to know that Empower’s team opted not to exercise dictatorial power. One minor issue that I noticed on my device is that the in-Email menu was a bit laggy – moving up and down resulted in some delays before the blue bar caught up to my trackball movement. Not a big deal though.

Now let’s try out the Calendar Integration. Going back to my Dad’s email, I want to set a reminder. Seamless, fast – recurring themes with Empower. Emails with attachments present no problems, either. Email integration with Viigo and the built-in Blackberry Browser works just as seamlessly.
Should you choose not to load images automatically, Empower makes it very easy to load them on-demand.

One problem I did find is that hyperlink images in emails are active. So, if you get an email in which an image is a link to an internet site, you will not be able to click on the image and open the link on your Blackberry.

Overall, Empower provides a seamless solution to reading emails the way they were supposed to look. BBSmart better have some tricks up its sleeves to match or surpass this experience.

  • Tully Weiss

    “Viewing emails as presented by Empower will not be possible with RIM’s release of OS 4.5,”

    empower released a version that works with the 4.5 beta thats out. 3.0.70.7 empower mail viwer pro

    works very well

  • Tully Weiss

    “Viewing emails as presented by Empower will not be possible with RIM’s release of OS 4.5,”

    empower released a version that works with the 4.5 beta thats out. 3.0.70.7 empower mail viwer pro

    works very well

  • Tully Weiss

    “Viewing emails as presented by Empower will not be possible with RIM’s release of OS 4.5,”

    empower released a version that works with the 4.5 beta thats out. 3.0.70.7 empower mail viwer pro

    works very well

  • DavidB

    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?

  • DavidB

    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?

  • MK

    David – I should have been more clear with regard to your question about Empower and 4.5 – what I meant was that even the new OS 4.5 won’t give users the advantages seen with Empower. Basically, that 4.5 doesn’t render Empower obsolete.

  • MK

    David – I should have been more clear with regard to your question about Empower and 4.5 – what I meant was that even the new OS 4.5 won’t give users the advantages seen with Empower. Basically, that 4.5 doesn’t render Empower obsolete.

  • Vagrant Pistol

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

  • Vagrant Pistol

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

  • jB

    That is about as biased and untrue a review I’ve ever read on 2 similar technologies… I almost disagree whole heartedly… BBSmart’s 1st release had a significant time issue on rendering the message… Since the upgrade, it’s almost instant and the fonts frankly are a great asset… not near the negative feature the reviewer asserts

  • jB

    That is about as biased and untrue a review I’ve ever read on 2 similar technologies… I almost disagree whole heartedly… BBSmart’s 1st release had a significant time issue on rendering the message… Since the upgrade, it’s almost instant and the fonts frankly are a great asset… not near the negative feature the reviewer asserts

  • DavidB

    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 …).

  • DavidB

    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 …).

  • MK

    Thanks for the comments, guys.
    jB, the only ‘bias’ involved with my review was the one that naturally developed after using both programs individually for a 2-day trial period on my personal device. I became ‘biased’ toward Empower because it provided me with a far superior user experience. If you prefer BBSmart’s features, I certainly respect that but please don’t call this review “biased and untrue”.

    DavidB – when opening an email, I much prefer to see the text immediately and have the images load into their placeholders while I can begin reading. I find this much more of a Browser/Viigo type of experience that you reference. BBSmart’s popup makes the reader *wait* until either 1. All images are downloaded, or 2. User cancels all image downloads. I personally found that irritating, but I do understand that opinions differ.
    Thanks all for the feedback!

  • MK

    Thanks for the comments, guys.
    jB, the only ‘bias’ involved with my review was the one that naturally developed after using both programs individually for a 2-day trial period on my personal device. I became ‘biased’ toward Empower because it provided me with a far superior user experience. If you prefer BBSmart’s features, I certainly respect that but please don’t call this review “biased and untrue”.

    DavidB – when opening an email, I much prefer to see the text immediately and have the images load into their placeholders while I can begin reading. I find this much more of a Browser/Viigo type of experience that you reference. BBSmart’s popup makes the reader *wait* until either 1. All images are downloaded, or 2. User cancels all image downloads. I personally found that irritating, but I do understand that opinions differ.
    Thanks all for the feedback!

  • Gerson

    I just downloaded empower and its not version 3.0.70.7 its an older version. And it doesn’t work on my curve OS 4.5 is there anyway I can get this newer version? I went to blackberrycool site to buy it but there’s nowhere on there where it shows that new version that will work with 0S 4.5. Anyone??

  • Gerson

    I just downloaded empower and its not version 3.0.70.7 its an older version. And it doesn’t work on my curve OS 4.5 is there anyway I can get this newer version? I went to blackberrycool site to buy it but there’s nowhere on there where it shows that new version that will work with 0S 4.5. Anyone??

  • http://www.getempower.com/ Ani

    Gerson, please visit http://www.getempower.com on your BlackBerry (not your Computer) and click on the green ‘Download Trial’ button next to the product you want to install. Once downloaded, just click on ‘Update Registration’ under Empower Options > Register. When you visit the site using your BlackBerry the system automatically detects your RIM OS and serves you the correct version.

    The product page for computer download will be updated soon.

    Thanks,
    Ani.

  • http://www.getempower.com Ani

    Gerson, please visit http://www.getempower.com on your BlackBerry (not your Computer) and click on the green ‘Download Trial’ button next to the product you want to install. Once downloaded, just click on ‘Update Registration’ under Empower Options > Register. When you visit the site using your BlackBerry the system automatically detects your RIM OS and serves you the correct version.

    The product page for computer download will be updated soon.

    Thanks,
    Ani.

  • MikeM

    I liked the trial of Empower but it gave me a repeated firewall error message when trying to open some of the messages. I did not get this type of message with BBSmart. I like Empower better. Any ideas on the firewall messages?

    Thanks,
    Mike

  • MikeM

    I liked the trial of Empower but it gave me a repeated firewall error message when trying to open some of the messages. I did not get this type of message with BBSmart. I like Empower better. Any ideas on the firewall messages?

    Thanks,
    Mike

  • MikeM

    The error message says:

    “The application net_rim_bb_messaging_app has attempted to open a connection to a location inside the firewall and outside the firewall which is not allowed by your IT policy.”

    I am using BIS connection.

  • MikeM

    The error message says:

    “The application net_rim_bb_messaging_app has attempted to open a connection to a location inside the firewall and outside the firewall which is not allowed by your IT policy.”

    I am using BIS connection.

  • BBLover

    Thanks Ani for the TIP!!! I just received the BlackBerry Software update directly from Verizon then went to read emails and found them dreary and boring again. Couldnt not figure out how to fix (even though the solution was so simple!). Also, found it difficult finding an answer to my problem. Thanks again for the help!!!

  • BBLover

    Thanks Ani for the TIP!!! I just received the BlackBerry Software update directly from Verizon then went to read emails and found them dreary and boring again. Couldnt not figure out how to fix (even though the solution was so simple!). Also, found it difficult finding an answer to my problem. Thanks again for the help!!!