Does the new e-mail provider really bring anything new to SJU?

For the next four years, incoming freshmen will be left astounded by stories told by upperclassmen and professors about “how it used to be.”

Every student who has been at St. John’s for even one year has heard, if not told, the same story: missing an important e-mail from a professor or the school because your mailbox was filled to capacity. Starting this semester, St. John’s has gotten past that embarrassingly low-tech problem with its new e-mail client, [email protected]

Since Google’s popular e-mail service, Gmail, launched in 2004, most e-mail users have become spoiled by a virtually unlimited amount of space to store old e-mails and attached files. But, it was not only Gmail. In response to the gigabyte of space that Google offered its users, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, and AOL all upped their storage space as well.

With every major free e-mail service offering more storage space than the average user could ever need, it was easy to become accustomed to the convenience – except for St. John’s students.

No matter how convenient your personal e-mail service was, you were still limited by your comparatively diminutive St. John’s e-mail account, which you inevitably had to struggle through using.

What’s more is that students had no choice in the matter. Perhaps the storage size would not have been so bad if users could just forward all incoming mail to a personal account. But it was not to be, as the client offered no e-mail forwarding option.

With [email protected], St. John’s e-mail client has finally brought itself up to speed and can stand alone as a respectable and usable e-mail service. In fact, St. John’s outdid itself by offering 10 GB of storage, more than most free services are currently offering.

Adding the extra storage space alone made St. John’s e-mail system incredibly more convenient: no more bimonthly cleaning out of the mailbox, cringing when a friend sends a few attached photographs that wind up taking a 30-percent bite out of your storage, or missing important messages about class because your professor’s e-mail was blocked.

While that would have been enough, [email protected] offers other features that make using St. John’s e-mail more convenient. While there still seems to be no option for e-mail forwarding, it is now possible to sync your St. John’s e-mail with a mobile device.

As more students get smartphones capable of fetching e-mail through wireless networks, this feature will become invaluable.

Instead of finding a computer and logging onto St. John’s Central to check e-mail, students can have it delivered straight to their phone the minute they receive it.

For those with mobile devices capable of obtaining e-mail, [email protected] could hardly be any easier: no more clicking through several screens before finally arriving at your inbox. Your whole inbox is in your pocket, whenever you need it.

Along with that feature comes improved spam control and a 25 GB Sky Drive, which could be moderately useful to students who need to share large documents or files with others or between home and school computers.

Of course, there is still some room for improvement. E-mail forwarding would still be nice, though it is no longer a necessity. And certainly, for those accustomed to the clean, minimalist look of Gmail, the client still looks a little heavy-handed and busy.

But, [email protected] has fixed the biggest problem St. John’s e-mail client had and gave students a few handy features they had not even asked for. The increased convenience and usability make the launch of the new e-mail client a success.