Tuesday, May 1, 2001

Email solutions, from simple to sophisticated


By Michael Connick

This month's article is going to be about the function most used by Internet users: email. Palm devices offer a variety of email solutions to their users. Some are classically small, simple Palm applications, while others provide large, sophisticated applications with functionality close to that available on a PC. I'm also going to talk about some tricks that can enhance the power of Palm-based email.

There are actually quite a few email solutions now available for Palm devices. They range in complexity from the built-in Mail program all the way up to MultiMail Pro. In this article, I'm going to cover three of these programs: the built-in Mail program, ProxiMail, and MultiMail Pro. Other email programs certainly exist, such as HandMail (at http://www.widget.co.uk/show.php3?prodnumber=60) and OneTouchMail (at http://www.jpmobile.com/otm.asp), but this article is going to be limited to covering the very low and very high-ends of email functionality. In my opinion, you should either choose a small and simple email program or go for the richest possible functionality.

The built-in Mail program

Every Palm device comes with the built-in Mail program. This program offers the very simplest of email functionality. The Mail application can only send and receive mail by performing a HotSync operation with a PC. It can't use the PalmModem or a wireless hookup. Palm Mail only works in conjunction with the following PC-based email packages: Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Outlook Express, and Lotus Notes. It's pictured in Figure A.


Every Palm device comes with the built-in Mail program.

In addition to needing a PC to send and receive email, it has other limitations. It can't transfer a message of more than 8K in size between the PC and Palm device. Messages longer than that are truncated at 8K. The entire original message still resides on the PC, so no information is irretrievably lost. You just can't see all of it on your Palm device.

Email attachments

The built-in Mail program can't handle email attachments. Any email message on your PC that has a file attached to it will only have the message body transferred to the Palm device during a HotSync. The attachment won't be sent along with it. All that will appear on your Palm unit is a message in the body of the email stating something like, "There are 1 file(s) attached to this message on your Desktop."

There's an easy solution to this problem if you own the Dataviz Documents To Go program. This solution is DataViz Mail. It's available for free to Documents To Go users by downloading it from http://www.dataviz.com. It'll automatically transfer Microsoft Word and Excel email file attachments to your Palm device and allow you to view them using Documents To Go.