RepliGo Viewer v2.0.1 for Palm OS

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, March 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Cerience Corporation, go to the web site
Requires: 166MHz processor or faster, Microsoft Windows 98 SE, Me, 2000 Professional, or Windows XP; 32MB of RAM (64MB RAM for Windows 2000 or later), 15MB hard disk space, Palm Desktop 4.0, 4.01 or higher, Palm OS v5.0 or higher, 700KB of available free space on Palm OS device; for Microsoft Office document conversion: Microsoft Office 97 service release 2 or Office 2000 or Office XP; for web page conversion: Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.5 or later
MSRP: $29.95

If text entry on your PDA is not the most efficient use of your time, except for abbreviated entries in the Date Book and detailed entries in the Address Book or vice versa, then what's the point of being able to use miniature versions or imitations of Microsoft Word and Excel (to name but two of the major formats which have migrated to PalmOS)? The simple answer is that being able to load a bunch of documents, spreadsheets, graphs, charts and what-have-you onto your PDA for later perusal, thorough reading or research is one of the handiest things around these days. The tricky part is being able to read and analyze the documents without the clutter of a full featured document creation user interface (cut, copy, past, edit, draw, insert, columns, tables, etc., etc.) occupying valuable screen space, while at the same time providing a viewer which preserves the documents' original formatting. And that's what RepliGo is all about - reading, searching, converting, bookmarking, commenting and highlighting all sorts of documents (with graphics included) on your PDA .

Uses for good native format file readers are numerous and sundry. Being able to haul around dozens of Word and Excel files, fully readable, fully searchable, in a format to which notes can be added, nicely rendered to your PDA display (and therefore easy on the eyes) is handy indeed. In fact, attending meetings accompanied by a PDA containing all the relevant documents creates less clutter, more focus and - at least in the case of RepliGo - makes for an efficient way to work.

Installing and using RepliGo is quite simple. The software consists of two main components: a) the conversion plug-in and a printer driver which are installed on your PC; b) the RepliGo Viewer for mobile devices which installs to your PDA and allows you to view and work with the documents you convert. During installation, RepliGo adds a toolbar button (plug-in) that integrates into Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Internet Explorer. For other file types such as PDF, CAD files, WordPerfect, etc., documents are converted using the RepliGo virtual printer by selecting Print on the file menu then RepliGo from the list of available printers. All conversions are fast and completely automated.

Our first admittedly hesitant working test of RepliGo was at a meeting with a client to whom we had previously delivered a draft research proposal. The client had printed the original documents (5 separate reports in Word, 2 Excel spreadsheets) and we were accessing them on a Palm Zire 71 running RepliGo. The documents totaled 14MB in size, each Word document averaged 37 pages and the Excel spreadsheets each contained 7 worksheets. We were able to browse, search, comment and bookmark each document throughout the meeting. The meeting lasted two and a half hours and I estimate that the PDA was actually on continuously for at least 70 minutes. During that time we used RepliGo continuously as well. No crashes, no lockups, no delays, no rendering errors.

Our second and more enthusiastic test of RepliGo was a also bit more complex. We had been contracted to consult with a high-level research team working on several space science projects. Specifically, we were asked to do a feasibility analysis on the two most complex projects. The initial problem (we thought) was the fact that none of the existing documentation sent to us was in a consistent format. We received PDF, PowerPoint, Microsoft Project, Word, WordPerfect, Excel and Visio files. Once again, document conversion was easily accomplished by going to the Print dialog and sending each file to the RepliGo virtual printer. All converted files HotSync'd properly.

Cons: It's too easy to get out of the default work flow (formatting and display) mode, which means you have to adjust the view percentage every time you get out of a zoom. Cerience changed the RepliGo documents structure, so older versions will not display v2 documents. Occasional word wrap problems in bulleted lists generated by Word XP (change zoom level than tap Work Flow to wrap lines properly).

Pros: Fast. It's real fast folks. Even when viewing documents loaded with graphics, charts and photos, scrolling is smooth and controllable, and screen rendering is clean, which means everything is clearly displayed and easy to read. We were impressed with how well the RepliGo converters preserved the original formatting of all the documents we tried. The RepliGo viewer is free of charge so anyone can install it and then read documents already converted by others. RepliGo was designed from the ground up to deal with the difficulties of reading large format documents on the small form factor of the PDA screen and it does a terrific job. The only difficult to read documents and spreadsheets we found were files that looked terrible (and difficult to read) on the PC too! RepliGo now has a permanent place on my PDA. Highly Recommended.

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