Date: Thursday, October 7th, 2004, 09:40
Readers of these pages are familiar with my recent move to a Windows Mobile phone (an HP iPAQ h6315, read: first look, accessories). I moved to the “dark side” because the h6315 features an unbeatable feature set: GSM/GPRS, WiFi and Bluetooth and an included T-Mobile hotspot account that works at over 4600 locations around the U.S. Today I’d like to mention some of the indispensable software that I’ve acquired since moving to this new phone and the Windows Mobile platform.
Mark/Space Inc.’s Missing Sync for Pocket PC (US$40) was the deciding factor that made me move to the h6315 mobile phone and the PPC platform. Missing Sync for PPC syncs better with my PowerBook that Apple’s own iSync did with my Sony Ericsson T630 and has more features: WiFi sync, photos, MP3s, mountable on the desktop, etc. Missing Sync for Pocket PC is an O’Grady’s PowerPick for 2004.
Pocket Informant 5 (US$30) is the number one Personal Information Manager (PIM) for PocketPC a reason. It simply trounces the features available in the included Contacts, Calendar and Tasks applications. Features include contact pictures, fully customizable color schemes, mini-text month views, zoomable month views, task view extreme. Excellent all around.
GarishKernels’ Egress is an RSS reader that can display your favorite RSS feeds directly on your PocketPC. It also includes a plug-in that rotates through the feed headlines on your Today screen. Egress is also an O’Grady’s PowerPick for 2004.
WiFiFoFum is an excellent WiFi access point locator/scanner with a cool real-time visual display. Unfortunately MiniStumbler 0.4.0 doesn’t work with the h6315.
Sunnysoft Backup Manager 3.0 (US$15) allows you to do things that the built-in iPAQ Backup application can’t, including scheduled backups and backups that trigger when your battery falls below a defined percentage. Backing up the h6315 regularly (and charging it nightly) is crucial as it is easy to accidentally run the battery all the way down which completely wipes out all your data.
Valkyrie Software‘s Screen Capture Utility (US$3) takes only 5k of storage space on your device and can be mapped to any key on your PDA. Their Space Reclaimer (US$7) is useful for cleaning up all the junk (obsolete files and folders, dead registry keys, application manager files) that Windows leaves behind and can be set to run after a soft reboot (which is at least once per day.)
PocketTV is a free, full-featured MPEG player that can play any standard MPEG-1 video file (.mpg or .mpeg) and can even stream MPEG video files using standard internet protocols such as http.
Pocket Innovation’s System Monitor is a free Today screen plug-in that displays essential system properties such as available battery power, program memory, storage memory and storage card space.
PocketWeather is a free Today screen plug-in that displays the current temperature, air pressure, windspeed and the five day forecast for up to six different forecast locations. It also features user-configurable radar and satellite images.
Derelict Software’s Storm Chaser (US$15) provides live access to the National Weather Service’s Doppler Radar maps. It provides a national site map and composite radar view for 112 radar sites wireless or synchronized. This was an invaluable tool for tracking the four hurricanes that ravaged Florida recently.
T-Mobile has released a firmware update (XIP version 4.20.14133.2) for the iPAQ h6315 that addresses issues sending e-mails with attachments and large files over GPRS using Pocket Inbox. T-Mo has posted instructions for checking your software version.
Lacking is an application to track the fuel consumption and miles per gallon of your vehicle, but I’ve gotten around this by using a Pocket Excel spreadsheet.
One last thing I want to discuss is the cost of PocketPC/Windows Mobile applications. Maybe I have been out of the PDA scene for too long but I remember when all PDA software was less than US$10 – much less. Today’s applications are US$15-30 and higher! Sure there are plenty that cost less than that, but the prices keep getting higher and higher and I can’t help but think that many of these developers are pricing themselves right out of the market.
To that end, I recommend looking for freeware alternatives before dropping US$20-30 on an PocketPC application. Some of the best sites are FreewarePPC.com and PocketPCFreeware.com
Do you use a PocketPC? What are your favorite apps and how much did you pay?