Head-to-Head: Empower vs. BBSmart

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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.

  • 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!!!
  • 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
    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?

  • Ani
    Gerson, please visit 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.

  • Gerson
    I just downloaded empower and its not version 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??
  • 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!
  • 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 ...).
  • 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
  • Vagrant Pistol
    I have 4.5.021 on my BB Curve and Empower Pro works just fine!
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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. empower mail viwer pro

    works very well
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