Head-to-Head: Empower vs. BBSmart

25 Comments

BBSmart
Well, how do I say this… they don’t. I won’t sugarcoat it – Empower simply has this war won. But, let’s go over how I came to that conclusion.

Installing BBSmart is an easy, over-the-air process just like Empower. A registration key is provided upon purchase, which must be inputted to activate BBSmart, but the trial version is fully featured for evaluation. Again, integration with the built-in Messages folder is seamless, just like Empower.

Let’s take a look at BBSmart’s options.

Everything looks kosher – image support, calendar integration, default viewer option, links, account choices, fonts… wait – Verdana? I don’t remember seeing that on my Blackberry before.

Yes, BBSmart has decided not to support native fonts and to instead offer its own set of fonts. Sounds cool, right? Well, in my opinion, the majority of the fonts were vastly different from their true computer versions, and not for the good. But, it’s a small thing that one could get used to.
Like Empower, BBSmart offers a full range of colors with which to customize how your messages look.

Let’s open some emails, starting with strictly text:

What is this popup, you ask? That’s how BBSmart tells you to hold your horses while it renders the information into a viewable email, strictly text or otherwise. So, instead of Empower’s instant-loading of text, BBSmart lets you look at all of our favorite parts of the early 21st century internet – a popup.

Let’s try my Image Test email.

Once again, the lovely popup telling me that I am powerless to read any of the email until all of the images have completely finished loading. Frustrating – especially when two out of the three images don’t even load at all! Those empty placeholders were all that remained once the loading popup went away. I can provide no explanation as to why they did not load, but multiple tries did nothing to help the situation.

So, overall, BBSmart offers a solution not nearly as seamless as Empower, without native font support, and with questionable image handling.

Conclusion

Empower charges $29.99 for their software, and for a user that wants a truly integrated, full Email viewing experience, Empower is well worth it. Viewing emails as presented by Empower will not be possible with RIM’s release of OS 4.5, and waiting for (not to mention paying for) the Blackberry Bold is not something on the top of everyone’s list. Empower offers the perfect solution, which can be found here.

OTA download: www.getEmpower.com/ota

  • 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!!!