Tip

Eudora email offers solid - not compelling - new features

Category: Email software
Name of tool: Eudora v5.0
Company name: Qualcomm Inc.
Price: free to $50, depending on features selected
URL: http://www.eudora.com
Windows platforms supported: 95, 98, NT, 2000
Quick description: The classic email software has gotten a few nice improvements.

Strom-meter:
*** = Hey, not bad. One notch below very cool.

Pros:
Peer-to-peer file sharing and mood detection, on top of a solid email product. Scripting/filtering is a gem.

Cons:
Can't easily handle multiple people sharing the same physical PC well. Address book isn't very useful for large contact lists.

Description:

Up until about a year ago, I had been a loyal Eudora user. I think the first version I got going was around v2.0 or so of the product. V5.0 adds some solid features, although not very compelling ones.

Eudora is a great product for processing email, especially if you get hundreds of daily messages. It has flexibility to script special filters, so that mail with certain keywords or from certain senders can be categorized quickly and automatically. It has plenty of power, and plug-ins galore that handle spell checking and rudimentary tasks like being able to switch a message typed by mistake in ALL caps to lower case. And the latest version adds mood tracking, better Palm support, and Peer-to-peer file sharing.

Mood tracking is a good idea. It looks for keywords in both incoming and outgoing

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messages, and categorizes them based on one to three chili pepper icons. When you want to send a "hot" message, a dialog box pops up that warns you "this is the sort of thing that might get your keyboard washed out with soap, if you get my drift." (I kid you not.) Of course, people who are likely to click that send button when hot under the collar are probably going to turn off this warning fairly quickly. Still, it is a nice thought.

The peer-to-peer file sharing (called the Eudora Sharing Protocol) is more meaty, and allows you to share messages and files amongst a small workgroup without the need for a central server--or even to turn on Windows file sharing. And it works across Windows and Mac platforms for anyone with an Internet-accessible mailbox, which is something to consider if your office has both platforms. You all need to be running Eudora for this to work, however. When someone adds a file to the shared folder, it gets sent out as an attachment to an email message to the rest of the group. Groove Networks is doing this on a larger scale with their software.

None of the new features is enough to get me back in the Eudora fold, though. And one feature that was touted as much improved -- the ability to import email folders and contacts -- didn't work well for me at all. (You need to install Eudora on the same machine that is running your older email software, so it can detect the older program's data files at installation time.)

I switched from Eudora to Microsoft Outlook mainly on the strength of Outlook's integration between the address book and its email features. But I haven't been completely happy. For example, if I ever forward a message, I lose the actual email address of the originator, since Outlook replaces that with the name in my address book. And I won't even get into the issue surrounding the potential for various macro viruses that take advantage of the integrated address book to spam my contacts.

Eudora doesn't have these problems, although its address book is still really unusable for large multi-thousand contact lists. The Palm integration is nice, but I don't use a Palm to organize my contacts. And it is still difficult to manage a shared PC, keeping different family members' email accounts separately. To do this properly, you need to follow the setup instructions found here.

Eudora has three different operating modes, depending on your ability to pay and your ability to withstand nagware ad banners. You can download a free "lite" copy without the ads, but you won't get all the functions. You can turn on all the features, but have to view the ads until you pony up the $50 (less if you have older versions) and then you get a key to turn the ads off.

Overall, this is a product worth looking at, especially if you aren't satisfied with your current email software. And if you are using an older version, the upgrade is worth the price, particularly if you can take advantage of the ESP feature.

Strom-meter key:
**** = Very cool, very useful
*** = Hey, not bad. One notch below very cool
** = A tad shaky to install and use but has some value.
* = Don't waste your time. Minimal real value.

David Strom is president of his own consulting firm in Port Washington, NY. He has tested hundreds of computer products over the past two decades working as a computer journalist, consultant, and corporate IT manager. Since 1995 he has written a weekly series of essays on web technologies and marketing called Web Informant http://strom.com. You can send him email at david@strom.com.

David Strom Web Informant 938 Port Washington Blvd., Port Washington NY 11050 +1 (516) 944-3407


This was first published in November 2000

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