Ask Emory: Push Email, Good or Bad?

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 16th, 2006, 11:41
Category: Mobile Phone

Dear PowerPage:
I would be very interested to hear more about your experiences with the Treo 650.
I have just purchased one and am looking at the idea of “push email”. For a start, I’m not sure whether it is a good or bad idea. Do you use this type of system? Which email program do you use on the Treo?
Chattermail seem to offer an attractive idea – messages arrive on your Treo when they arrive at your server without having to manually choose to get mail on the Treo. However how this works is a bit confusing to me!
I’d be very interested to hear your experiences on this and how you manage email on the Treo.
All the best,
Simon

Click on the headline to read the PowerPage’s resident mobile phone guru Emory Lundberg’s reply…

Dear PowerPage:
I would be very interested to hear more about your experiences with the Treo 650.
I have just purchased one and am looking at the idea of “push email”. For a start, I’m not sure whether it is a good or bad idea. Do you use this type of system? Which email program do you use on the Treo?
Chattermail seem to offer an attractive idea – messages arrive on your Treo when they arrive at your server without having to manually choose to get mail on the Treo. However how this works is a bit confusing to me!
I’d be very interested to hear your experiences on this and how you manage email on the Treo.
All the best,
Simon

The PowerPage’s resident mobile phone guru Emory Lundberg replies:
Well Simon, I personally have not used the Treo 650 more than casually, but Jason has written his thoughts down a few times on The PowerPage and on his ZDNet blog.
Push email isn’t a good idea or a bad idea. It is merely a method of delivering email to the handset. Really it comes down to how fast you actually want email to show up on your person.
For some people on expensive data plans, they don’t want to be having every message delivered to them constantly. Other people on cheap unlimited data plans from T-Mobile don’t mind having data usage skyrocket because they’re paying a flat-rate.
Having email pushed to some devices lessons the battery life considerably. With the Treo 650 this probably isn’t much of a problem, but the GoodLink Treos in my office don’t last nearly as long as the BlackBerry devices do in everyday use, though the BlackBerry is specifically designed for that type of usage scenario.
Most email clients will allow you to schedule retrieval of messages. You shouldn’t ever have to do a manual email check with any modern email client. Even the standard, VersaMail, has this function built in.
Now most of the “push” email solutions out there are using IMAP-IDLE, which is great. Not every IMAP server supports IMAP-IDLE, but much of them do these days. You mentioned ChatterMail and as far as I know it is the only Palm OS email client that supports IMAP IDLE. It also has some other nice features such as actually doing things in the background so you spend less time waiting for your Treo to come back to you like some sort of email boomerang you throw out and twiddle your thumbs until it is back and ready for action.
If you don’t have the means to run your own mail server, you could always make sure your email service provider supports IMAP IDLE, fastmail.fm sure does, and they get pretty high marks all around for the premium IMAP service.

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