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Old 09-17-2007, 06:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
Entropy666
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Talking Review: BBSmart HTML Email Viewer - Version 2.3 - BerryReview

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BBSmart SmartView Email Viewer - BerryReview

Rating: 9.5/10
Version: 2.3

Link: Home
Cost: $24.99
Compatibility: v4.0.2 Blackberry OS or higher

The developers of BBSmart have been quite busy since our last review and have added many new features to the application which warranted a new review. We were so impressed with the new version of BBSmart that we awarded it the BerryReview Editors Choice Award. The new version adds new features such as email templates and better integration that make it a must have on your BlackBerry. The only complaint we still have is speed but they have really sped up the new version. Read the full review after the jump

NOTE: As we mentioned in the last review the developers had to work within the bounds RIM has set to make this Email Viewer work. RIM strips out all HTML, except for hyperlinks and image links, from your emails before the email even gets to your device. Thus the only HTML you will see in this email viewer is images and improved human friendly links.

Installation:

Installation of BBSmart is actually quite easy. There are two versions one for 4.2 OS device owners and one for all other devices. Once you install the software you will be prompted every time you open an email with a message along the lines of "Do you wish to view this email with BlackBerrySmart Viewer. Your options are obviously yes and no but they also give you the option to never be asked this again. This will remember you selection and apply it to every other email you open.

Configuration:



The configuration options of BBSmart have come a long way since the original release. The new options make this a true email application without any sacrifices. The first option allows you to choose if you want images to be displayed in your email. The second lets you set BBSmart as your default email viewer for every email. The next option is very useful since it allows you to view the full details of an email in every email which was missing in previous versions. The last of the display options allows you to show the full hyperlinks instead of shortened versions. The next set of options relate to the font display of your emails. You can choose to have a different font size and if you want to font to always be bold which makes it easier to read.

The next set of options are a stroke of brilliance on BBSmart's part. You can set a different look for emails from every different email account you have coming to your BlackBerry. This means that you can make your Gmail email look different than your Yahoo email. There are quite a few options in this regard. You can set different background colors, fonts, text sizes, and font colors. It even has a nice preview area where you can see your changes as you make them. The next portion of the config allows you to set the connection settings for BBSmart.



It has built in support for BES, TCP, and WAP and it automatically configures the best connection. In a step towards saving free memory on your BlackBerry you can also set how often the Image cache clears on your BlackBerry.



The last options relate to the PIM (personal information management) integration in BBSmart. As we will mention later, BBSmart allows you to make a task and calendar entry out of an email. In this section of the config you can further specify how you want that to work. BBSmart allows you to configure if the subject and/or body will be included in the task or calendar entry that you create from an email.



The email templates part of BBSmart is also located in the configuration options. You have to hit the menu button and then select SmartSay options. From there you will see 3 preset templates and you can add more very easily by hitting the create new button. You can also edit the templates using the menu->edit option. The SmartSay application is very well thought out and even allows you to customize the order of the templates by moving them up or down using the menu.

Interface:



The interface and the logo of BBSmart have gotten a redesign but that is just aesthetic. Once you open an email you will automatically open the BBSmart viewer if you have it as your default viewer. If you do not have it as you default viewer you must click the menu button and select BBSmart View.



Once you are in the interface all the functions are included in the menu and many of them can also be accessed by a shortcut key. This is one of the major improvements in Version 2.3. All of the shortcut keys are shown in the menu for reference including many that were not in earlier versions. Look at the screenshots above to see what I mean. Most of the options are self explanatory such as reply and forward but others add a very nice level of customization. You can save an email as a template for SmartSays. You can also return to the regular native email client. You can also show and hide images and view folders from the application. As I mentioned before you can add the email as a task or calendar item based on your configuration options.



There is a very nice feature that I glossed over above which is called SmartNote. This is a feature that BBSmart has added that allows you to write a comment or note about the email and set a priority level for it . I do wish they would improve upon this function a bit by allowing you to view all of your notes in one place. They also have smiley support in the email , as you can see above, so it shows graphical smileys when you receive them in an email.

Hotkeys and controls:

As I mentioned before this is one of the areas where BBSmart has done some serious work. The new version 2.3 supports hitting the "B" key to go to the bottom of the email and the "T" key for going to the top. It also has support for using the spacebar to go down one screen at a time. Unlike other email viewers this does not skip and jump all over the place.

Images and Links:



The one thing I noticed in the new version of BBSmart is that emails are no longer plagued with spacer images. It seems that the developers at BBSmart have found a solution to block these spacer images from downloading. Other than that the formating for images has also been improved. I do wish there was the option to click on the image to view it full size.

Pros:
  • HTML viewer for BlackBerry
  • Speed and size improvements
  • Email Templates AKA SmartSay
  • Email notes AKA SmartNotes
  • Complete support for hotkeys and email functions
  • Configurable themes for each email account
  • Option to not use the viewer as the default email viewer
Cons:
  • Speed improvements would be appreciated
Verdict:

The improvements in BBSmart Version 2.3 are amazing. They have added so much functionality yet cut the size of the application in half. The new email template system allowed me to uninstall an application I had just for that purpose. The ability to add emails as a task and as a calendar item is very useful and I use it every day. As I said in the cons above the only problem with BBSmart is speed but they are improving that with every revision. The best part is that every upgrade is free for registered users. Its like getting a free program every time they add a new feature. If you get many HTML emails I would highly recommend BBSmart as your email program of choice. BBSmart has upped the ante for Email on your BlackBerry and they are improving with every new version.
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