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We all know that the BlackBerry Smartphone is the ultimate device for business use (well, any use to tell you the truth). Your BlackBerry is your most reliable personal assistant. Among its countless benefits, it keeps you in touch with your clients, informs you of important updates and reminds you of appointments. The only thing it can't do is bring you lunch - though you can actually order delivery using your BlackBerry. Overtime, your successful business grows and your team expands. As the BlackBerry users increase, communication and synchronization become critical. At some point, you may consider turning to a BES, but your budget may not be able to squeeze it in.
Before digging deep into your pocket, AstraSync should be considered as a cost-effective solution. This powerful synchronization application provides users with two-way syncing of your emails, calendar and contact information over-the-air. So, if you are using Gmail, Google Sync, Open-Exchange, Microsoft Exchange, or other Exchange ActiveSync servers that are compatible, this may be an excellent alternative to a BES. Read on for more information.
AstraSync is brought to you by the good people at MailSite Software Inc. MailSite has been offering its clients similar solutions since 1995. On November 24th, 2009, they unleashed AstraSync version 4.0 upon the world (4.0.17 to be precise). According to the company, AstraSync currently works on BlackBerrys with OS 4.2 or higher; testing performed using the most recent of BlackBerry models. The ActiveSync application`s file size is 747.3 KB. As far as connectivity is concerned, the application will work on both cellular and Wi-Fi connections. After the initial installation, you should take heed of the following warning. If your BlackBerry is synchronized with your BlackBerry Desktop Manager, there is a chance that your data may be duplicated or lost. So make sure you disable the Desktop Manager`s sync option. Now before you begin, you need to correctly configure your server settings. For the review, I synchronized my Gmail account. Once your server credentials are verified, you are now ready to sync to your heart’s content.
Luckily, you are given the option to synchronize which type of data, be it Email, Contacts or Calendar (or any combination of the three). I say luckily because, users who don`t need access to a particular feature, aren`t forced to sync it. Pre-existing data on your BlackBerry cannot be differentiated from data on the server and data duplication may occur. You are given the option to permanently delete device items. Depending on how much data you are dealing with, this synchronization process may take a few minutes. Please keep in mind that the application doesn`t offer the majority of its functionaility unless you choose to sync email. While attempting to sync my data, I did experience ``error 403: forbidden`` at times. I unfortunately had to reboot my device a couple of times, for some reason, before I could really get into the application.
AstraSync does offer multiple settings to help you fine tune the application. I could decide how frequently I wanted to sync my data. This schedule can be managed by setting peak time and off peak time, peak time start end times and off peak time server check intervals as well as which day(s) of the week these are active on. For email and calendar entries, you can decide how far back you want to reach for data; ie- retrieve message from a month ago. You can also set how often the application checks your native calendar and contact data. AstraSync supports many of the functions we`ve grown accustomed to with our BlackBerrys, including; message deletion confirmation, address book lookup when composing and signatures.
Once email data is chosen to be synced, you will have access to AstraSync`s Inbox feature. The AstraSync Inbox is very similar, in functionality and appearance, to the native inbox. In the inbox, an option called Company Directory allows you to find a specific contact. There is also a new and much welcomed Multi-select option, granting you the ability to select multiple messages, which are not listed in sequence. Other New options have been added in the latest version of AstraSync:
The application offers support for HTML - you now have the ability to switch message view from Plain Text format to HTML format.
Message Flags and Priority can be set and viewed. Once the flagged message has been dealt with, you can mark the flag as completed.
The application now supports Hotlinks. URLs, email addresses and phone numbers can now be selected while using either Plain Text or HTML formats.
Meeting Requests can now be viewed, as well as accepted or declined.
Attachment support has been greatly improved. Your files found on media card or device memory can now be attached to messages. Received attachments can be opened without saving to your device first (Documents-To-Go support).
If it wasn't for the initial hiccups, I would have been absolutely impressed. I'm glad I didn't get overly frustrated at the beginning, as I think AstraSync is amazing. For individuals or small-to-medium sized businesses they would definitely benefit from this moderately priced BES substitute. Version 4.0 has many additions, which I was happy to see. For those of you who have used previous builds of AstraSync, you will be impressed with the wide array of improvements in this recent release. AstraSync is available for $49 annually. For more information, check out AstraSync.