I am a huge fan of Postbox, an e-mail client that has really thought out what an e-mail application should do. In particular, when I first used their beta product, I was impressed that they were not trying to create an all-in-one application like Microsoft Outlook. Instead, they were following the path blazed by other developers, including those who are creating Mozilla’s Thunderbird. The e-mail client is the primary focus and other functionality, like calendars and contacts, are add-ons like browser extensions. This gives the developers strong focus, and the users a lot of flexibility in how they want to use the software.
I was interested to hear on Lifehacker that Postbox had released a free Postbox Express version. Express tends to mean stripped down or limited; think Microsoft’s Outlook Express. I installed Postbox Express to see how it compared not only to Thunderbird, my current e-mail client (because it is free) but also to the Postbox I had used in the past.
As a free e-mail client, Postbox Express feels very much like Thunderbird. In fact, at one point I wasn’t sure which one I was using, once I had all of my accounts appearing properly. The setup is just as easy as Thunderbird and the program is easy to use. But the really interesting functionality in the full Postbox is missing – quick aggregation of attachments and contacts, for example – and without that, I am not sure it is a significant contender with Thunderbird. I also wonder if Postbox can create the same type of add-on environment that Thunderbird currently has at the free level. Frankly, if I were purchasing a business software application, I would have no problem paying for a full version of Postbox. At US$40, it is not that expensive that a free, stripped down version holds much attraction.