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SBSH Mobile Software's PocketBreeze 5.0

Review posted Jan. 2, 2005 by Tanker Bob

The burning question from ragged-looking, unemployed TV barbarians with maces and swords these days seems to be: "What's in your wallet?" In the Windows Mobile world, you don't need a mace and shield to ask: "What's on your Today screen?" One of the most popular answers to the latter question also stands as one of the most useful and popular programs for busy, schedule-driven people. That application is SBSH Mobile Software's PocketBreeze, and SBSH recently released a major update to bring PocketBreeze into Windows Mobile 5 compatibility with a number of exciting new capabilities.

Tanker Bob tested PocketBreeze 5.0 on a Dell Axim X50v running Windows Mobile 2003SE with a 624MHz CPU and VGA screen. PocketBreeze was installed into Built-in Storage, although it installs some of its DLLs into RAM.

Busy for lunch tomorrow?

First and foremost, PocketBreeze puts your schedule on your Today screen. It attractively occupies the center screen position of the illustration below, even providing its own Windows theme and application skin (illustrated in the screen shots) to harmonize the overall screen. PocketBreeze 5 is fully skinnable, leaving the limits of its appearance to the skinner's imagination. A host of talented folks make skins for PocketBreeze, most of which are available on the SBSH forums.

screen shot

 

PocketBreeze is almost infinitely configurable. For this review, I will describe actions as I have them set up while listing other possibilities. Almost all behaviors may be changed to suit the user, as will be described briefly below. The user may even specify the underlying Personal Information Manager (PIM) software to use when working with individual appointments, tasks, etc. Special compatibility and support come built-in for Pocket Informant and Agenda Fusion.

The screen shot above shows PocketBreeze 5's area of the screen consisting of three areas. The tab bar to the left allows the user to display built-in tab functions, like Calendar, Tasks, Messages, Notes, and Special Events, as well as custom tabs that the user might activate. Across the top of the PocketBreeze 5 display lays the top tab bar which displays the current display-mode icon on the left, the current filter name in the middle, and tab icons if the tabs are set to display across the top. If the tabs are on the side, the Options tool icon displays on the right by itself. The center of the PocketBreeze 5 area offers the underlying data to the user.

PocketBreeze 5 follows the general motif of Microsoft Outlook. It uses the same colored bars to the left of appointments and informative icons to the right to document the presence of alarms, notes, recurrence, privacy, etc. If the user limits each appointment to one line on the screen, they may tap on the line to have it display fully. Double tapping on an appointment opens it in the pre-selected PIM.

The day title bars add even more information. In addition to the day and date, they can display a bar that indicates the day's activity. The size of the activity bar may be adjusted, as can the hours that it covers. This provides quick insight into free times available. Tapping on the '-' icon next to the day title collapses that day's appointments under the day heading. Tapping and holding on a day title opens a context menu, enabling the creation of new appointments and tasks with or without templates, collapse that day or all days entries, open Calendar or Tasks, or open the popup calendar.

Tapping on the information icons to the right of appointments and tasks can bring up their information in your native PIM. Tapping on the note icon brings up a small window with the note's contents displayed. The window's text zoom may be adjusted.

Tapping and holding on an entry brings up a context menu with actions available. These permit you to manipulate the entry in a host of ways. Reschedule… pops up a calendar display which will be covered below. Tapping on a date on the popup calendar moves the item to that day. The Options… selection opens the PocketBreeze 5 Options screen. This can be handy if you have elected to hide the Options icon on the top bar.

PocketBreeze also supports category icons and colors to readily identify particular types of appointments. If the user desires, the time-status bars may use category colors instead of the standard Outlook status colors in front of appointments. The distribution file includes a number of VGA and QVGA category icons to get you started. PocketBreeze can also be set to use the category colors and icons from Pocket Informant and Agenda Fusion. Very flexible and convenient.

Now you see it, now you don't…

Filters provide a tailored view of any categorized set of data. The filter name active for the calendar always displays on the top bar, which is set to normal in these screen shots. Categories may be included or excluded when selected, and up to 32 filters may be defined and named in addition to the included All (i.e., no filter). Important safety tip: be sure to include Uncategorized items in your default filter setting. That way if you forget to categorize a new item, it will still display by default. Failure to do this will put you at risk of missing an important appointment-been there, done that, wore out the t-shirt.

I use filters for a variety of different purposes. I only need my daily Scripture readings once, so normally filter them out during the rest of the day. Another filter displays just them for reading time. If your employer reimburses your local travel/mileage, noting these trips with a dedicated category will streamline the process of filing vouchers for payment, especially if mileage or charges are recorded in attached notes. Medical appointments might be another handy category, making it simple to find the last or next visit to a particular doctor or specialist. The same would work with school activities, perhaps for each child. With a little thought and categorization discipline, filters can simplify any number of tasks.

Tasks work very much the same as appointments. They can be filtered by category, sorted to three levels, displayed together with appointments in a number of ways and/or separately on their own tab. They may be checked off as complete right on the Today screen. Their tap-and-hold context menu looks similar to that for appointments with analogous actions available. PocketBreeze 5 supports the additional task prioritization schemes of Pocket Informant and Agenda Fusion. I usually display my tasks in with the appointments each day, and PocketBreeze allows you to place them in front or behind the events of the day. Future tasks may be presented at the bottom of the calendar list.

Popup Calendar

Tapping on the Calendar icon on the top tab bar or rescheduling an appointment brings up a very useful calendar popup.  Tapping on the arrows on the window’s title bar moves forward or backward through the months.  Selecting a day can display that day’s or week’s entries in PocketBreeze.  The time bars show the level, time periods, and types of activity during each day where activity exists, but these bars are optional.

screen shot

 

Alternately, the calendar may be pinned on the screen if PocketBreeze 5 is set to at least 400 pixels high on a VGA device or 200 pixels in QVGA.  The above illustration has the PocketBreeze height set at 420 pixels.  Tapping on a date on the pinned calendar brings up that day or week in the main PocketBreeze display depending on your preference settings.  Appointments may also be dragged to new days as either copies or moves depending on which icon is selected on the left side of the calendar.  Tapping and holding on a date brings up a menu from which you can load the selection, its week or month.  You can also create an appointment or task.  While this was interesting, I found the normal popup calendar to be more functional.  The pinned calendar just takes up too much space on the screen for my taste.  I want to see as much of my schedule as possible.

screen shot

 

add to cart

PocketBreeze 5: $14.95

 

 

Next -> Page 2, tabbed interface, notes, messages and conclusion

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