Sofware in Review
Tech news
at TheJemReport.com
Software reviews
at SoftwareinReview.com
Hardware reviews
at HardwareinReview.com
Discuss technology
at TJRForum.com
Sofware in Review → PDA/Smartphone → Windows mobile software →

SPB Diary review

By Jem Matzan

Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system has many shortcomings, many of which can be solved with add-on software. SPB Software House's Diary program makes all of your most important information -- tasks, email messages, calendar, and notes -- visible directly on your start page. After two weeks of using SPB Diary, I've come to regard it as a necessity for Pocket PCs.

Organizing your organizer

PDAs are only useful if they handle data storage and retrieval without a hassle. The less you have to think about the device you're using, the more you can concentrate on what's important -- the information the device holds. SPB Diary is one of those rare software tools that reduces the complexity of a device by making it easier to access its data. Instead of having to open several programs to get to your information, you're only one tap away from the most important data your Pocket PC holds.

SPB has a number of screen shots of Diary in action.

Interface and usability

SPB Diary's interface is as simple and intuitive as possible; the entire program is displayed on your start page, where your quick start icons usually reside. When you power the system on or close all open programs, you'll see the Diary layout just below the date and owner information (assuming you haven't changed the default configuration). Tap the five tabs to the left to get a quick view of all of your PDA's most important data.

Diary is basically middleware -- it makes it easier to access the Pocket PC's most useful programs. Rather than have Messaging, Tasks, Calendar, and Notes all open at once, you can see all of the data stored in all of these programs without opening any of them. So Diary does not have a separate program for each of these functions -- it relies on programs that are already installed in Windows Mobile by default. If you change any data through SPB Diary, it is changed in the parent program as well.

The only significant shortcoming that I found in SPB Diary was that I couldn't retrieve new email messages directly from the Diary interface. I had to either open up the Messaging program and download new email manually, or set Messaging to retrieve email on a schedule. All other functions worked as expected, and greatly increased my Pocket PC's usability.

Summary

Anything that eliminates the need for menus while reducing the overall number of taps is a great PDA software package. If the Windows Mobile developers had thought a little harder about their interface design, Diary wouldn't be necessary.

Purpose Interface enhancement
Manufacturer SPB Software House
OS support Microsoft Windows Mobile 2002, 2003, 2005 (5.0)
License Proprietary, restrictive in all the usual ways
Market Pocket PC users
Price (retail) U.S. $15
Previous version N/A
Product Web site Click here