101 Killer Apps for your Palm Handheld by Dave Johnson & Rick Broida, ISBN 0072254297

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, August 2004, send e-mail
Published by: McGraw-Hill/Osborne, go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$24.99

Are you tired of endless searches on all the Palm OS software sites, looking for a particular program or application? Do the obviously partisan 'review's on many of the download sites leave you unsure about which program to choose for your particular need? Are the more authoritative reviews too difficult to find (except on Kickstartnews of course)? Are the authoritative reviews you do manage to find all too complicated, long, or otherwise difficult to understand? If so, you need a book! In this case, the book contains 101 recommendations for Palm OS software divided into ten major categories covering every conceivable, conventional need for the majority of Palm handheld users. Best of all, the book comes with a CD containing current or recent versions of every single program covered.

101 Killer Apps for your Palm Handheld is a one-stop shop for most Palm handheld owners. Unless you're an incorrigible Internet addict, you're unlikely to find better product selections in each category than the ones chosen by authors Johnson & Broida. In fact, although all of the software in the book certainly has strong competition, it's debatable that even the geekiest among us is ever going to find something better than the programs in the book in the short term. What Johnson & Broida have done is recognize their readers as those who want fast, good quality answers to a large list of specific needs. So the authors' research seems to have been focused not just on the best of breed in each category, but also the most popularly useful in each category. There's a distinction and it rests principally in the usability of the chosen software. On top of that, the authors have also chosen software for its compatibility and stability across Palm OS 3.5 through 5.x. Obviously, all the software in the book may not work perfectly on older, slower handhelds running earlier versions of the operating systems, but for the most part you should be delighted with almost every program you choose to install, no matter what Palm OS handheld you own.

So what's covered? In a word, everything. Work and productivity are very thoroughly covered and get as much attention as utilities, games, travel tools and replacements for built-in Palm programs. We found a few surprises too. Keep in mind that software reviewers, even the writers at Kickstartnews who tend to spend more time actually using the software and hardware they review, think that they've already seen everything. So it was great to find FileZ (freeware from NoSleep Software), a superb file management utility which is now a permanent part of my own Palm OS toolkit. We also found the heretofore unknown PenJammer (shareware from Ironwheel Works) which is the finest Graffiti teacher we've ever seen (my wife officially extends her thanks to Johnson & Broida).

The conventional #1 hits abound too: perennial award winners Agendus, AvantGo, BugMe!, Cloak (which just underwent a name change to TurboPassword), DateBk 5, Documents-to-Go, QuickOffice, RepliGo, SilverScreen and Vindigo among some of the more notable titles.

The book is well designed and will help you find what you need quite quickly. The table of contents does not contain program names, opting instead to provide one line descriptions of each title within the each main category. However, the index provides a more detailed reference. There's also a file list starting on page 183 which shows the programs in order of presentation in the book. These three breakdowns make it easy for anyone to quickly find a program for any general or specific need.

Cons: There's only one problem (a tribute to Johnson & Broida's diligence) which is that you should really get the book now because in a year, almost everything on the CD will be out of date, superceded by newer versions which you'll have to find and download.

Pros: Well planned selection of software which provides in-depth solutions to a wide range of needs for work, play, utility, productivity, hobby and entertainment. Top quality selection of programs chosen both for stability and compatibility. The authors have spent a lot of time tracking down a terrific selection of freeware. The ultimate choice for people who need Palm OS software and who are intimidated or confused or just put off by the effort needed to dig all this stuff up by themselves. Highly recommended.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to: whine@kickstartnews.com




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