Review: NEO Pro

NEO Pro 3.0
Caelo SOftware Inc.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
(604) 269-9006

Caelo calls NEO an e-mail organizer or second-generation e-mail client. Perhaps the easiest way to think of it is as an adjunt to Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express. NEO doesn't send and receive your e-mail (though you can send e-mail from its user interface. Rather, the goal of NEO is to make it easier to work with the e-mail you already receive by providing a user interface whose indexing, search, and organization tools are far superior to those of Outlook.

For starters, NEO Pro goes through and indexes all your e-mail for near-instant full-text search. The indexing also includes senders, categories, attachment types, and status. If you want to find messages with a particular type of attachment from a sender, it's trivial. NEO can use these indexes to provide all sorts of different views of your mail. For instance, the Correspondent view lets you drill down into anyone you've been conversing with and see the messages you've exchanged with them.

Another nice touch is the separate incoming filing of bulk mail. NEO recognizes newsletter subscriptions and shunts them off to a separate virtual folder, so they don't get mixed in with high-priority mail. If you have a lot of folders, you'll also appreciate the ability to filter the folders shown in the folder tree by string searches. Categories are much better integrated with NEO than they are with Outlook (where they're so hard to get to as to be pretty much useless); NEO makes it easy to move messages into categories, filter on categories, and so on.

Because of the volume of e-mail I send, receive, and keep (currently my archive is just about 450,000 messages) I'm brutally hard on e-mail utilities. Installing NEO was simple, but the initial synchronization with my primary PST file took multiple tries spread over two days and a few visits to their support pages (which are extremely well integrated into a product; if something goes wrong, you'll usually get a hyperlink directly to a Web page that can solve the problem). After some tweaking to the program's data engine settings, all was well, and changes from Outlook are reflected in the NEO Pro interface within a few seconds. The application adds some memory load to the computer, but less than that of Outlook itself, and the CPU impact is negligible. The speed of NEO, on the other hand, is great! Searching for messages goes very quickly, and between the free text search and other filtering controls (age, status, and so on) it's easy to pick out the needles from my overly-large haystack.

Overall, I'm impressed with NEO Pro as an adjunctn for Outlook. It corrects some of Outlook's most obvious failings (such as the dismal native search and poor category support) and adds enough new functionality to be more than just an add-on. If you'd like to see for yourself, you can download a free trial from the company's Web site.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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