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MailX PE: Pushing the Unpushable Print E-mail
Written by Richard Bloor   
Wednesday, 01 June 2005
Push email is no longer the preserve of enterprise users or dedicated operator services. Bitween MailX serves the traditional push email user as well as anyone with a POP email account. We ask whether push email really is within everyone's reach.

MailX is something of a chameleon application, it is all things to all people. It comes as a dedicated enterprise server but also provides a pseudo push service to anyone with an Internet email account and a Series 60 or Series 80 Symbian OS device.

For an annual fee of $24.95 MailX PE will "push" email from any number of POP3 or IMAP4 email accounts (accessed over a clear or secure SSL connection) set up on a Series 60 or Series 80 device. The system works by downloading mail settings from the device to Bitween's MailX PE server. From the server MailX PE then polls the mailboxes at a frequency determined by the user. When new mail is detected in an account MailX PE then "pushes" that mail to the device by forcing the device's email account or accounts to do a mail retrieve. This action can be accompanied by one or both of an SMS alert or audible "got mail" tone, which can be any sound available on the device. If an alert tone is used it can be set to notify even when the phone is in silent mode. If SMS alerts are used they obey the SMS alert rules in the active profile.

MailX PE also offers another retrieval mode, polling. Polling works by connecting to the server based on the polling frequency to see if email has arrived, rather than staying permanently connected. Setup seems to offer another option, SMS, but this is only available in commercial MailX implementations when provided by an operators.

The Series 60 and Series 80 versions essentially work in the same way. The system is activated by setting up basic options in MailX on the device. These settings are sent to the server to create and activate an account.

Once active a status screen provides information on key indicators, such as whether the application is actively connected, how long it has been connected and the number of mail retrievals it has performed.

The service worked well on the two devices tested, a Nokia 6600 and a Nokia 9500. The only issue approaching a deficiency was found on the Nokia 9500. On the Nokia 9500 MailX efficiently switched from a WLAN connection to GPRS when the phone roamed outside the office, but it did not switch back when the WLAN became available again. It is arguable as to whether this is a deficiency of the Nokia 9500 or MailX. This issue only affects MailX and its push notifications, the email retrieval will pick the first available connection found, according to the account setup. If the polling mode was in use MailX connected using WLAN whenever it was available.

MailX's data usage will be dependant on mode selected, the email account setup (such as the size of messages to download) and the frequency at which email is received. While it is difficult to be sure of the data overhead our tests suggest that in push mode it uses around 30 KB per hour, based on receiving messages every 5 minutes. MailX includes a feature to turn it on between specific hours, which saves unnecessary data traffic, while the user is asleep for example.

Bitween provides a 15 day trial for MailX PE, which is automatically activated when MailX is set up on a device. Once this has expired subscriptions can be purchased online from Bitween's Web site. The account is tied to a specific device but Bitween will swap an existing service to a new device on request (although the user is responsible for creating the email accounts on the device.)

MailX PE is a simple and elegant solution to providing push email to the broadest community. It is simple to create and works effectively. For any user who hates the thought of missing an email it will be a must. For everyone else it will be a question of whether 10c a business day is worth the convenience of not having to manually retrieve email, and that should not be difficult to figure out.

Bitween have versions of MailX PE for UIQ and the Nokia 7710 in development. The first to be released should be the UIQ version.

For more information on Bitween MailX PE see: www.bitween.com

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 June 2005 )
 


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