DateBk5 v5.1b for Palm OS

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, October 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Pimlico Software Inc., go to the web site
Requires: Palm OS3.5 or higher
MSRP: $39.99

If you own and regularly use a Palm OS handheld device—a PDA of any kind really—chances are your primary needs for the thing include all or some of the following: address book, calendar, appointment scheduling, recurring event reminders, gaming. There are lots and lots of other uses for PDAs, but the highlights for most people are really quite straightforward. For SOHO owners, small business owners, salespeople, managers, tradespeople, busy homemakers and many others, the ability to carry around an enormous amount of data along with your daily, weekly and monthly schedules in a device the size of the latest PDAs is a dream come true. The best of the best programs for PDAs are designed to provide all of the aforementioned users with loads of support, and with an array of effective features and functions that are stable and easy to use. Say hello to DateBk5.

PalmOne and all the other PDA makers don't just manufacture devices, they also design, develop and embed native utility and productivity software in the devices, and bundle tons of additional software with every PDA. Classic examples of embeded software are Date Book, Address Book and the rest of the rudimentary bunch of tools which are an intrinsic part of the Palm operating system. The tools function perfectly well right up to the inherent limitations of their respective feature sets. Of course PalmOne (and all the other PDA makers) are interested in supporting third party development (the more software available for their PDAs, the more likely you're going to buy one), and that's why PalmOne offers development kits specifically designed to help independent developers create new programs. It also makes sense that the biggest development targets for independent software vendors are those rudimentary productivity and utility programs supplied with every device. Say hello again to DateBk5.

DateBk5 is a robust calendar and scheduler which has been available for several years. Its popularity is largely the result of its fundamental superiority to the built-in Palm OS datebook. In case you're wondering how powerful DateBk5 really is, here's a partial list of highlights:

  • Colors, fonts, icons, custom alarms and repeats (on both events and ToDo's) — being able to quickly identify certain items or categories of items in your daily schedule is a huge help.
  • Full integration of ToDos — the ToDo list appears at the bottom of the datebook screen (split screen) making it easy to combine ToDos and scheduling. You can also set up a split-screen display of any other PalmOS database (Memo Pad, etc.). Enhanced Date Picker has pop up list of all events and ToDo items.
  • Saved Views — you can set up customized program views which make it even easier to look at or refer to only the information you need.
  • Quick Entry Templates — we love this one because it helps you insert standard item entries using the absolute minimum number of taps.
  • Weekly View — shows an entire week at a glance, including text entries, along with the ability to read the appointment text. Additional views include year, 4 month and list mode.
  • Palm OS categories — to separate business from personal use or store calendars of other people, with the ability to beam an entire category to another user.
  • Icons — colorful icons (for categories, individual appointments, etc.) and an icon editor.
  • Sony Clie compatibility — support for Small and Tiny fonts, jog dial, PCM Sound Library(OS/4/4.1 only), high density icons and collapsible graffiti on all hi-res models including TH55, NR-70, NX-70/80, NZ-90, etc.
  • TimeZone management — allows multiple items in different timezones to be displayed with adjustments in your current timezone.
  • Flexible purging — separate history database and undelete functions.
  • Anniversaries — feature shows years for anniversaries or ages on birthdays.
    Link items — an appointment can link to other related appointments or ToDo items or to contacts associated with an appointment.

In use, DateBk5 is superior in many ways. First and foremost, it's fast. It flies on my Clie TH55 and the Palm Zire 71 & 72. I tried the software on an older Sony PEG-S360 and a 760C and it ran almost as fast as it did on the Zire. A lot of information is displayed at once, but the interface is easy to read. Data entry is a breeze with all of the standard input methods available to you. Alarms are extremely flexible, multiple reminders come in very handy and the having the current ToDo list displayed at the top or bottom of the screen (it's configurable) is a bright ray of sunshine because it means you no longer have to jump back and forth between programs in the non-multitasking world of Palm OS.

I use a PDA every day—at least twice per hour during my typical workday; on weekends for a hundred different reasons; when I'm traveling, for everything from a morning alarm clock to WiFi Internet access at hotels and meetings. DateBk5 provides the level of detail and customization I need to set up and maintain appointments, reminders, meeting notes, appointment notes and cross references to people already in my address book.

Cons: Text cursor placement is sometimes finicky, occasionally making it difficult to place the cursor at the beginning of a line when making corrections or highlighting a block of text to copy.

Pros: Handspring's Datebook+ (found in all Handspring PDAs including the Treo600) incorporates licensed DateBk3 technology and can easily be upgraded to DateBk5. Direct text entry and display means that lots of text is in plan view for each calendar event without the need to tap in order to read it all (a vast improvement over clunky old Outlook and Sony's terrible Clie Calendar). Extremely versatile reminders, alarms, and recurring event scheduling. Having ToDos on the same display page as your daily schedule is brilliant. Linking calendar events with address book contacts is also brilliant, well executed and something that really should be included in Palm OS. All major repetitive actions are accessible on the top level of the program, a great design with an intuitive interface. I'm a dedicated, registered DateBk5 user and I don't know what I'd do without it. Highly recommended.

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