101 Killer Apps for your Pocket PC Handheld by Rick Broida & Dave Johnson, ISBN: 0072254327

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, September 2004, send e-mail
Published by: McGraw-Hill/Osborne, go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$24.99, CDN$36.95

What interesting list of must-have Pocket PC programs grace the pages of this tome? What precious gems lurk on the CD which accompanies this tome? Dare I say good stuff? And is it all organized (better yet) for easy perusal, perchance to help ease the headache incurred by hours of frustrating searches through hundreds (nay, thousands?) of files on dozens of web sites? Filling one's Pocket PC with just the right mix of productivity, creativity, game, utility and communication software is not for the faint of heart or the weary of mind. There are too many choices out there on the Internet, too poorly sorted (or at the very least, too poorly described) to risk the expenditure of time on yet another inappropriate download. You need a book! 101 Killer Apps for your Pocket PC Handheld is meant to slake the thirst for quality software and focus your personal needs.

Are you tired of endless searches on all the Pocket PC software sites, looking for a particular program or application? Do the product descriptions so obviously culled from the software makers' marketing material on many of the download sites leave you unsure about which software to choose for your particular needs? Are the more authoritative reviews too difficult to find (except on Kickstartnews of course)? Are the authoritative reviews you do manage to find all too complicated, long, or otherwise difficult to understand?

101 Killer Apps for your Pocket PC Handheld is a one-stop shop for most Pocket PC handheld owners. Unless you're an incorrigible Internet addict, you're unlikely to find better product selections in each category than the ones chosen by authors Johnson & Broida. In fact, although most of the software in the book certainly has strong competition, it's debatable that even the geekiest among us is ever going to find in the short term something better than the programs in the book. What Johnson & Broida have done is recognize their readers as those who want fast, good quality answers to a large list of specific needs. So the authors' research seems to have been focused not just on the best of breed in each category, but also the most popularly useful in each category. There's a distinction and it rests principally in the usability of the chosen software. We said the exact same thing about Johnson & Broida's 101 Killer Apps for your Palm OS Handheld. On top of that, the authors also seem to have chosen software for its compatibility and stability across Pocket PC 2000 through Windows Mobile 2003. Obviously, all the software in the book may not work perfectly on older, slower handhelds running earlier versions of the operating systems, but for the most part you should be delighted with almost every program you choose to install, no matter what Pocket PC handheld you own.

So what's covered? In a word, everything. Work and productivity are very thoroughly covered and get as much attention as utilities, games, travel tools and replacements for the programs bundled with the Pocket PC operating system. We found a few surprises too. Keep in mind that software reviewers, even the writers at Kickstartnews who tend to spend more time actually using the software and hardware they review, think that they've already seen everything. So it was great to find Agenda Fusion (from DeveloperOne) a superb calendar enhancement that makes the default calendar absolutely shine. I also found ListPro (from Ilium Software) which is the best ToDo list enhancement I've ever seen.

The book is not just support and description for the programs bundled on the CD. Basic usage instructions are also included for each program. On top of that, the book is littered with excellent so-called Killer Tips and sidebars containing additional program information to help you make the best possible use of the software.

The book is well designed and will help you find what you need quite quickly. The table of contents does not contain program names, opting instead to provide one line descriptions of each title within the each main category. However, the index provides a more detailed reference. There's also a file list starting on page 203 which shows the programs in order of presentation in the book along with the developer or manufacturer name and URL. These three breakdowns make it easy for anyone to quickly find a program for any general or specific need.

Cons: There's only one problem (a tribute to Johnson & Broida's diligence) and it's the same one I suggested for the 101 Killer Apps for your Palm OS Handheld book which is that you should really get the book now because in a year, almost everything on the CD will be out of date, superceded by newer versions which you'll have to find and download. Unlike the Palm OS book, this one contains very little freeware mainly because there just isn't a lot of good freeware available for Pocket PC (with notable exceptions being Palm Reader for PPC to get at the tens of thousands of e-books in PalmDoc format, the delightful PocketTV for viewing videos/movies on your PPC, and Unit Converter for doing all sorts of data conversions).

Pros: Well planned selection of software which provides in-depth solutions to a wide range of needs for work, play, utility, productivity, hobby and entertainment. Top quality selection of programs chosen both for stability and compatibility. The authors have spent a lot of time tracking down a terrific selection of programs and the effort shows. The ultimate choice for people who need Pocket PC software and who are intimidated or confused or just put off by the effort needed to dig all this stuff up by themselves. Programs like 4.0Student (school assignment/homework tracking utility) are typical of raft of applications which are genuinely useful and which I'd never heard of before reviewing this book. The 2004 World Almanac is included—I didn't even know it existed for Pocket PC. The best part of all is that every program description in the book contains a small tutorial section to help get you started. Well researched book, up-to-date and useful. Highly recommended.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to: whine@kickstartnews.com




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