KeySuite v3.5 for Palm OS

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, May 2006
Published by: Chapura Software
Requires: Palm Desktop 4.0.1 or higher, HotSync Manager 4.0.1 or higher, Handheld device using the Palm OS 3.5 or higher, at least 1.89 MB free memory on the handheld, Microsoft Outlook 2000 or higher, Windows 98, ME, XP Home or Windows 2000 or XP Professional, 32MB available RAM (PC), 2MB available disk space (PC)
MSRP: US$69.95

KeySuite is designed to eliminate the need to reorganize, rename and revise information in Microsoft Outlook Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Notes in order to meet the limitations and formatting requirements of the built-in Palm OS Date Book, Address Book, To Do List and Memo Pad on your handheld. KeySuite functions as a companion to Outlook, providing a two-way conduit for almost all Outlook information (except Journal entries and e-mail) to and from corresponding programs installed on your handheld as part of the suite. Chapura Software has a similar product called PocketMirror that is designed for Pocket PC/Windows Mobile users. KeySuite is strictly for Palm OS PDAs.

KeySuite consists of six productivity programs designed as much as possible to help you display and use Outlook data on your handheld exactly as you use it on a Windows PC. The core utility in the suite, KeyLaunch, is used to configure your Palm OS device to launch different components of KeySuite whenever you press the appropriate hardware button. The other five programs are KeyContact (address book), KeyDate (calendar and scheduler), KeyNotes (memo pad), KeyTasks (to-do list), and KeyToday (a home screen similar to the Today screen found on Pocket PC handhelds—it provides a summary view of the day's tasks, events, appointments and so on).

I had ulterior motives for reviewing KeySuite. Although it's completely tied to data generated by Outlook components, I've never actually used Outlook on the PC for anything other than e-mail. Since 1999 I've been using Palm Desktop on the PC and a Palm OS PDA exclusively, for contacts, appointments, task lists, memos and so on. So during the six weeks that I spent using and reviewing KeySuite, my secondary goal was to find out how well Outlook could work for me. Basically, Outlook works just fine for me and I can't disagree with the literally tens of millions of generally satisfied Outlook users around the world. KeySuite v3.5 was reviewed primarily on a palmOne Treo 650 although we tested it briefly on several other Palm OS handhelds (see "Pros" below).

The familiar Outlook design paradigm is cleanly and simply emulated in most components of KeySuite. My usual appointment entries consist of five or six word phrases each, along with an alarm setting which varies according to travel distance, office location, prep time and so on. Transfer to KeySuite during HotSync presented all of my appointment data intact with no abbreviations or formatting changes. The same is true of KeyContact, although you have to do a bit of scrolling on the Treo 650's small screen. All of the Outlook contact information is preserved in each KeyContact entry and on a Sony Clie TH55 or a Palm TX with their wonderful large, high resolution screens, most contact entries are fully visible without the need for scrolling. Gotta love those full size PDAs with the long screens.

KeyNotes and KeyTasks are less interesting for their appearance and unity with Outlook than for their inherent feature sets. In fact, both components have the ability to link data back and forth from contacts and appointments. I have always preferred to use the Notes sheet in the Palm Calendar rather than creating separate Memos in Memo pad or other similar standalone utilities. I've also tended to writes short notes in Palm Calendar appointment entries if the amount of information I'm entering isn't going to exceed the character limit for each appointment entry. The point is that maintaining an almost identical appointment and associated notes format in Outlook and on your Palm is much easier with KeySuite because of the way KeyDate, KeyNotes and KeyTasks are integrated. And that's the whole point. Success!

Cons: The main Con really has little to do with KeySuite, but rather with the context in which KeySuite runs on a handheld device. Basically, the amount of information you can see in one glance, displayed on screen at the same time that is, remains a middling fraction of what you'd normally see in the same screen displayed on a typical 17" or 19" PC monitor. Smartphones like the Treo 600/650/700 simply don't have screens large enough to present a detailed and physically expansive context for your data, which makes KeySuite somewhat better suited for the large, high resolution displays found on devices such as the Palm TX and the late, lamented Sony Clie TH55. The KeyNotes utility is not much different from the Palm Memo utility. We know about lots of other people who are using KeySuite successfully and reliably on their Treo 600 smartphones, but we could not get it to work on our 1st generation unit.

Pros: KeySuite has me hooked and I am continuing to use it despite the fact that I've finished reviewing it. The biggest deal about KeySuite is less its ability to synchronize multiple PCs or get all of your Outlook data onto a handheld than it is the ability to present your data in almost the same format and layout as you find it on a Windows PC, e.g., Outlook folders, rather than Palm OS categories. That means you can view and use your Outlook data on the handheld in the same basic context as you would on a PC, which makes the whole KeySuite thing more useful than many of its competitors. Each folder within KeySuite can contain up to 250 categories, which represents superb organizational versatility. Everybody likes KeySuite's integrated Today screen, something that Palm users never see unless they use the FacerPro launcher or some standalone utility. Chapura Software has managed to encompass an enormous part of Outlook's functionality within the much more compact Palm OS form factor. No problems on my palmOne Treo 650 or our trusty Palm Zire 71 and 72, Palm Tungsten E, and Clie TH55. KeySuite is responsive, and the individual components launch quickly. KeyContact and KeyDate are indispensable for Outlook power users who also spend part of their lives inside a Palm PDA. It's the closest thing to the real Outlook that we've seen on the Palm. Recommended.

KSN Product Rating:

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