Palm email just got a whole lot more interesting

If you use your Palm or Treo to do email you’ve probably run across SnapperMail which has been widely regarded as the best client for POP and in the current beta IMAP as well. The UI and support for many devices is great, but as anyone testing things out has noticed the price for IMAP, which is only available to Enterprise customers (though individuals can purchase, it’s just what they call it) who are willing to pay about $60.

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, 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, you can get full background send and receive capabilities for your messaging needs! This is an amazing feat for the OS 5 devices and I have a feeling that Chatter will become extremely popular. Imagine turning the palm on and finding your new messages have conveniently already arrived.

The message view area is the only lacking 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]

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UPDATED 8/19

After a day or so of use and another beta release, I have some additional thoughts to share…

Chatter allows for a couple of cool tricks since it can run in the background. First, you can get a pop-up message with notification as well as the actual message a new mail comes through while 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.

4 comments for “Palm email just got a whole lot more interesting

  1. Steve Friedland
    7/27/2006 at 5:23 pm

    I am trying Chatter with a Treo 600 on t-mobile. I do not seem to be able to use the push feature and Chatter help tells me it is not available with T-Mobile. Is that your experience. I assume I can get around this by setting chatter to do a quick sync every few minutes but I wa trying to get a true blackberry like experience.

  2. 7/27/2006 at 7:03 pm

    I’ve never had an issue on TMO…. Are you sure that your IMAP server / provider supports IDLE?

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