I may be starting to sound like a broken record but I again had trouble using this site with my phone’s built-in Openwave V7 browser. This generally reliable browser was not recognized by Yahoo’s Mail Beta, Hotmail or MSN Live Mail. In those cases I blame the sites rather than the browser, see my previous post for details.
In the case of Mail2Web it looks like a browser issue or at least an overly strict interpretation of HTML standards by the browser. Mail2Web has both an WAP1 wml version and a WAP2 cHtml version. The wml version worked without error with the OpenWave browser but I didn’t really enjoy using it. Mail2Web’s wml site is optimized for a WAP1 phone with maybe a four line screen. The Inbox view only displays three e-mail titles per page and message bodies are broken up into pages of about a dozen lines each. In addition the WAP1 edition uses a wml “select…option” to present the Inbox. Selects work great on the early Openwave V.4 wml-only browsers where the select is rendered as a numbered menu which looks and works just like a modern WAP2 menu of accesskey enabled links – push 1 to open the first email, 2 for the second one. But on any other mobile browser the select is rendered as a user unfriendly drop-down list. Drop-downs are a usability nightmare on most non-touch screen phones. What should take one keypress requires a dozen or more. You have to arrow down multiple lines to reach the drop down, press OK to open it, arrow down a few (or many) more lines to the selection you want, press OK to select the option and close the drop down and finally press OK or select again to act on your selection.
My i855 has a modern WAP2 browser with a generous 176×220 screen which can display 12 lines of text. I shouldn’t need to fool around with the clumsy WAP1 screen. The phone’s browser should easily be able to handle Mail2Web’s cHtml page. In fact, I could load the Mail2Web PDA page in the OpenWave browser but I couldn’t get past the login screen. When I entered my credentials and selected Check Mail, instead of displaying my Inbox, Mail2Web reloaded the login page again! I know I had my password etc. correct. In fact, if I deliberately mistyped the password I got an appropriate error message. I’m not sure exactly what the problem was. The Mail2Web cHtml page is loose HTML 3.2 and did throw a few minor errors in the W3C’s validator but most such pages do. Mail2Web’s login form also does a 302 html redirect to the Inbox screen after a successful login but that shouldn’t be a problem either for a capable browser. The Nokia and Netfront mobile browser simulators handled Mail2Web with no problems and surprisingly the Openwave V7 simulator did too. On the other hand, the Motorola Internet Browser simulator however failed in the same way as my real Openwave browser. The bottom line is that even modern mobile browsers are quirky and unpredictable. If you build mobile sites, you need to test on every device you can lay you hands on to avoid complaints from users and cranky reviewers like me. Once again, I turned to Opera Mini which worked perfectly with Mail2Web WAP2 site.
There are several ways to use Mail2Web. If you just go to Mail2Web.com/pda/ you see a page where you enter your e-mail address and POP3 or IMAP password. This is what Mail2Web calls Intellilogin (top image). The web application tries to determine your POP3 server name and login id from your e-mail address. I have three POP3 accounts on three different servers, Gmail, my ATT/Yahoo ISP account and another at my web host. Of these three, Intellilogin only worked with Gmail. If Intellilogin doesn’t work with your mail server you’ll need to hit the “Advanced Login” link which brings up a form with fields for server name, account name, password, server type (IMAP or POP3) and whether to use SSL authentication or not. The advanced login worked for all my mail servers. Finally, and this is what I use, you can create a free account at Mail2Web and enter the account details for as many servers as needed. You get a custom URL (mail2web.com/pda/You_user_name) and when you load that URL you’ll see a drop down listing all your e-mail servers and a password field (second image). Mail2Web doesn’t store your password which makes it more secure but also means that you have to login every time you launch Mail2Web.
The Mail2web PDA user interface is pretty good although somewhat different than most mobile web e-mail services. There is no way to delete an e-mail while viewing the message body. There is a next link to go to the next message but deleting is handled in the Inbox view where there are checkboxes in front of each message title and a Delete Selected button (bottom image). This meant that I couldn’t do the speed test in exactly the same manner as with Gmail, Live Mail and Y!Mail. What I did was take the time and clicks required to load 10 successive e-mails and then delete them. Dividing by 10 gave me the time and clicks per e-mail. It worked out to 15 seconds and about 7 clicks per e-mail. Not nearly as fast as Gmail but still second fastest overall. I’ve updated the table from my Mobile Mail Speed Test post to include Mail2Web(below). Mail2Web is also the only mobile e-mail site tested that offers the option to view html formatted e-mails as html.
I also found Mail2Web very handy for managing my ISP mail account which gets a lot of SPAM and also receives mail from a mailing list were I’m only interested in a few of the topics covered. I can scan the Inbox headers in Mail2Web and tag the messages I don’t even want to open (obvious SPAM and tired mailing list threads that I’ve had my fill of). Then I hit Delete Selected and the unwanted messages are deleted in one fell swoop.
If you have e-mail servers that don’t have a mobile front end but which support POP3 or IMAP, Mail2Web is a good choice – better than Yahoo which also supports retrieving mail from POP3 servers. Mail2Web is faster and it even allows you to send e-mail with a reply to address that points back to your POP3 or IMAP server e-mail account. Finally, if you have a Windows Mobile or Blackerry device, Mail2Web also offers free Microsoft Exchange email accounts with Backberry and ActiveSync support. I don’t have a BB or Microsoft phone so I haven’t used Mail2Web’s Exchange service but there’s a nice writeup about it at Mobility Today.
See Also: WEBSITE OF THE DAY – mail2web.com at Pocket-Lint.co.uk, mail2web.com Offers Free Microsoft Exchange Email Service at GeekZone and
Free hosted Exchange service- mail2web at jkOnTheRun