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Summary:

Brian, a good pal of mine, is a big show-off. Every time I meet him for spicy Hunan food, he brags about his Blackberry 7100, and how cool it is to be able to manage his email on the go, and calendaring and all that stuff. […]

Brian, a good pal of mine, is a big show-off. Every time I meet him for spicy Hunan food, he brags about his Blackberry 7100, and how cool it is to be able to manage his email on the go, and calendaring and all that stuff. Given that his company has an exchange server, and can afford to put a Blackberry exchange server, he has a reason to feel a trifle smug.

siemens sx66I have been looking for a wireless solution that would help me over come my Internet Anxiety Disorder and get a better handle on my in-box and cluttered and confusing calendar. Well, one could switch to Windows, and get Blackberry to do wonderful things, but that is a last ditch option. Having said that, I was still wondering how to make Siemens SX-66 WiFi/GPRS Pocket PC phone play nice with my Mac. (Sure I could use Pocket Mac’s delightful product but that would be mostly static synchronization. Same with Mark/Space’s PocketPC-to-Mac utility.)

What I really wanted was one email account where all answered emails, sent emails and that sort of stuff remained in one place. Having contemplated this for a while, I signed up for hosted exchange, and Good wireless email from a small New Mexico start-up, Desk optional. It is one of the few places that offer hosted Good wireless email.

The package costs, $59.95 every month for a wireless-enabled mailbox, $24.95 for a plain one. There are no setup fees and no contract. Everything is included: access from as many mail clients as you need (including web access), anti-spam and anti-virus, and (most importantly) support.

treo 650Within minutes of signing up for the service, I got an email with all the instructions. I fired up the PocketIE, downloaded the Good wireless client and in less than 20 minutes was checking/sending email from my new-hosted email box. I tried it on Treo 600, and Treo 650, and the service worked seamlessly without a problem. (Actually it looks the best on a Treo 650, though I am loath to use the device because of high incidence of dropped calls – it doesn’t happen on Siemens SX-66 or even Treo 600, but 650, for some odd reason misbehaves!

On the desktop side, the most obvious choice was to use Microsoft Entourage, which has a good Exchange support. Well, since all my previous email is in the Apple Mail, I decided Entourage is not a good option, now that Tiger has support for syncing Smart Folders and all. Setting up the exchange account in Mail was not a problem, but given that my Business 2.0 email is hooked to my computer via Exchange, and since Mail.app doesn’t support multiple Exchange accounts, I used the IMAP option.

What about calendaring? I am using Groupcal and AddressX, both mighty fine products from Snerdware to sync my iCal with the hosted exchange account. They use the outlook web access as a way to talk to the Exchange server. Both products work most of the time, though Tiger hasn’t been too kind to these products. I have to manually do the syncing. On Entourage however, these problems don’t exist.

I have been using it for almost a week now, and I have to tell you, my email inbox is getting cleared faster. Still, this is an expensive option: $59.95 for the email service, and another $44 for the PDA access from Cingular – that’s a shade over $100, but worth every penny if you can afford it.

  1. danoschmano Saturday, May 7, 2005

    Om,

    That sounds like a sweet set up. I have about 1/2 of your set up.

    I don’t receive a lot of emails per day (lucky me!), so I can get away with just using a yahoo.com email account. Their wireless-optimized site for mail is pretty nice.

    My mobile access device is a Dell Axim x50v which has WiFi and a 640×480 screen (VGA). I found it to be a very handy instant-on, internet-access device. WiFi plus Bloglines is a great option with the Dell since Bloglines does a *great* job of rendering for mobile devices.

    I’m looking forward to getting a Pocket PC-based phone someday when cellular data plans come down in price a bit.

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  2. Om -

    Mailstreet.com is another provider of hosted Exchange/Good software – they charge $12.95 for the basic mailbox and $330/year for the Goodlink software – which comes out to approximately $40 a month – a good deal cheaper than your current solution. I have a hosted account with Mailstreet and a Blackberry – love the solution.

    I think Yahoo is missing an opportunity here – if I was them, I would be making Yahoo mail software for the Treo, Blackberry and Smartphones of every kind. Then you could have everything synced up without the need for Microsoft Exchange.

    Just my 2 cents,

    Damian

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  3. Damian, one thing which is an issue with Mailstreet is the size of the mailbox. For extra storage, you have to pay more. In case of Deskoptional, i guess the storage is more flexible – about 400 megabytes or so.

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  4. Im pretty sure that yahoo is coming out with new cell phone integration software for samsung on cingular. i know samsung for sure, I dunno about the others like moto.
    Figure the 75-200 dollar cell phone market is alot bigger than the pda/blackberry market combined.
    Back to Om, I am in a different spot. I would love to have ical. I love the feature that it can sync with a ton off different cell phones.

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  5. Rob, can you tell me which service you have. i am suggesting the good-hosted exchange for treo/pocket pc devices only. ical-2-exchange via groupcal is a pretty good option. still please post your questions and hopefully i can answer those more clearly

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  6. Rob – agreed on market size. I hope that they do a java-based application, then it should, with a little work, run on a variety of platforms. At that point, as soon as I can get my mail through a mobile client, I’ll change my email over to that service and be done with the Blackberry.

    Om – I see your point on size – not an issue for me since I can file most of my stuff locally (have to do that with even 400mb) – I figure Mailstreet is going to start feeling the heat and start upping the disk space pretty soon.

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  7. Damian,

    I agree, the storage is the key. I mean with GMail offering 2GB for free, the least these guys could do is offer the service with 1 GB of storage space. anyway I think MailStreet is going to respond soon enough/

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  8. For most people (who don’t have to deal with multiple Exchange accounts), why not use Sprint’s Business Connection Personal Edition? For just $5/month over the cost of Vision, you can access multiple POP, IMAP and Exchange (via desktop client) accounts. I use it for my work email (on Exchange) and my .Mac account on my Treo 650. The only limitation I see is that it only holds the 75 most recent emails you’ve received in each account.

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  9. om, i was just talking to mary hodder about this same problem and we couldnt come up with any good solution. i find that when i’m mobile i’m emailing to coordinate meetings and dont have time to input into the blackberry calendar and then sync to my pc. (i use mac too but have given up on any sync with ical.)

    what i really want is the ability to forward an email to mycal@markpincus.com or input into blackberry and have it sync via email to my pc and outlook and even mac and ical (oh and how about to my girlfriend’s pc too.) does anything like this exist?

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  10. mark… not sure if something like that exists. however the good solution is pretty good from my perspective especially if you are using outlook. for instance you can set-up meetings right from your handheld and basically anyone who accepts or rejects attending the meeting, that information can be synced directly with all calendars anytime. the invites are sent as an email so nothing much to worry about there. give it a shot/

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