AnyTime Deluxe v8.0

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: Individual Software, go to the web site
Requires: Pentium PC or higher, Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000 or XP, 6MB hard drive space, mouse
MSRP: $29.95

Missed an appointment lately? Absorbed in some inane Web surfing session and forgot to pick up your kid from baseball practice? Running a small business and trying to keep a To-Do list in your head, or worse, on dozens of Post-It notes? It's probably time to smarten up. Forgotten an important birthday or holiday lately? It's definitely time to smarten up. Organization, working smarter (not harder) and being able to prioritize during any day, week or month is a most valuable asset these days and it's just too bad that most of us are terrible at it. And that's the most likely reason that AnyTime has been around for over 9 years.

There's lots of time management and organization software out there, competing head-to-head. Most are built on the premise that typical users will have lots of time to enter data. That's also the premise which lays them low - most people don't have the time to do overly intensive data entry.

AnyTime Deluxe consists of five integrated major functions: Calendar, To-Do, Address, Notebook, Expense. So what distinguishes it from the rest of the crowd? For starters, it's a bit more stable than Outlook and a bit more versatile than Palm DateBook. The standard version of AnyTime is designed for use by one person on a single computer. The Multiuser Network version is designed to accommodate two users in a small home or office network who want to share AnyTime Deluxe. This version fully supports the Fast User Switching feature in Windows XP. The Business version is designed for use in a business environment across three or more computers. During our daily use, we successfully shared schedules and address books.

The added attraction in each version is a built-in utility called AnySync, which allows PalmOS and PocketPC users to transfer data back and forth between their computer and PDA. In our tests, all calendar data (appointments, reminders, to-do items, etc.) synched perfectly into a Sony PEG-S360 Clie and a Compaq iPaq.

Cons: You know what? DateBook (supplied with all PalmOS PDAs) allows you to enter data directly into a time and date field. AnyTime Deluxe forces you to enter data into separate dialogs or a data entry field above the page, which then drops the data (notes, appointments, expense items, etc.) into the relevant page, time or list. It's not the best design in my opinion and unfortunately has a lot of company. Why not design the software to allow data entry directly into the sheet? You can't add a new e-mail address to an appointment when you're in the data entry dialog. Only e-mail addresses that have been entered in advance are available, which means you have to exit the data entry dialog, go into the Address Book module, enter the address and/or name and e-mail data, re-enter the data entry dialog and choose the e-mail address. Yeesh! After selecting a test appointment in the Daily Planner module, I right-clicked and selected Notes. I added a brief test note then clicked the Insert Date/Time button in the Notes dialog and got an error message. The test appointment disappeared from the Daily Planner module display, but was still intact as I discovered when I tried to re-enter an appointment for the same time and date - another error message popped up telling me there was a conflict. Yeesh again! I discovered a few other bugs which tend to make me feel that AnyTime Deluxe v8.0 is not quite ready for heavy duty use on a daily basis. Average integration between modules. Checking off a completed item in a To-Do list requires that you call the To-Do dialog, check Done and click Apply, after which the item will be checked off. This represents a lot of needless running around inside the UI. Somebody at Individual Software needs to do a usability study. The Expense module does not tabulate a visible total - a curious omission. You have to switch to print preview or print layout to see the total.

Pros: Despite my complaints, for casual and light to medium duty use AnyTime Deluxe is a decent alternative to Outlook and a heckuva lot smaller and faster too. The price is right as well. The configuration dialog allows you to set an automatic backup function. You'll never have to remember to backup your calendar data again. Customizable on-screen layouts and print options. During installation you can make a series of selections which will automatically install and enter all sorts of national, ethnic and religious events (about a dozen countries are included) - very nice. The UI - in particular the pop-up data entry dialog for each module - provides a consistent, easy-to-use tool for data entry in all of the modules. Even if the quirks mentioned above bother you, you're still getting a lot for only $29.95. AnyTime Deluxe is worth a look.

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