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SBSH Mobile Software's PocketBreeze 5.0 Review Page 2

Review posted Jan. 2, 2005 by Tanker Bob

(continued from page 1)

Tabbed Interface

Note that the above screen shot shows the tabs across the top of PocketBreeze 5. Since there are more tabs than space to display them, an arrow appears on the right side of the top tab bar. I actually prefer the tabs at this location as that allows more horizontal room to display appointment data. Since the tab order can be changed, I just put my most-used tabs in view.

New to version 5.0, tabs may also be placed on the side of the main PocketBreeze display. Placing them on the side allows more tabs to be visible for immediately selection. You may disable tabs that aren't needed or won't be used to save icon space, CPU time, and memory.

The Notes tab comes new to PocketBreeze 5 and arrives as a work in progress. It displays all notes in all My Documents folders on the device and one directory down from there, all in alphabetical order. Notes may be grouped by folder, but not by category yet. Notes in a group are alphabetized, and the information displayed cannot be customized yet. New notes may be created by tapping and holding on the group or folder title bar.

The Messages tab works similar to other tabs.  All email accounts on the device will list, with unread messages in bold type.  Tapping and holding on an account brings up a menu from which emails may be created, the account listings collapsed, or open the inbox for that account.

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Tapping and holding on a mail item pops up another context menu, from which you may preview that email, mark them as read or unread, create tasks to reply or follow up, or create new emails. The preview window displays the email contents along with all the header information (header not shown in the illustration). Very slick, but I could live without all the header information in the window. If you want to reply, forward, or delete the actual messages, though, you must do so in your messaging application.

The special events tab puts birthday, anniversaries, et al, at your fingertips. PocketBreeze culls both the contact and calendar databases for special events. In the calendar, the user can select which categories if any should show as special events. The user may also set the time period over which upcoming events should be listed, up to a year, as well as the advanced warning time that events are approaching. Longer time periods for the display will slow some PocketBreeze functions significantly, so users should exercise restraint with this feature.

screen shot

 

Custom tabs provide unmatched flexibility and power to the user.  In short, virtually any Today plug-in may be set up as a custom tab under PocketBreeze 5.  So rather than eating up valuable real estate on the Today screen, your almost-favorite plug-ins can be accessed under PocketBreeze 5 simply by tapping a tab.

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Custom tab memory usage received careful thought and implementation.  Custom tabs may be loaded using one of three approaches.  “Static” automatically loads the plug-in at startup and keeps it in memory just as if it was on the Today screen.  Programs like Uptime that track the battery status in detail and spb Time with its alarm functions must be loaded like this to work properly.  However, loading too many of these will quickly eat your Program Memory and CPU time. 

“Dynamic Init” serves as the default and loads the program the first time you select its tab, then keeps it in memory thereafter.  Programs like ContactBreeze, WeatherPanel and PocketWeather work well this way, and they don’t use any CPU time or memory until you need them.  Keeping them in memory after initial loading speeds their subsequent access and they will continue to update in the background thereafter. 

Lastly, programs may be loaded “Dynamic” so that they will exit after selecting a different tab and their memory returned to the operating system for minimum impact on the system.  ContactBreeze would work fine in this mode, but would incur a slight loading delay upon each execution if you have a large Contact database.

This entire custom tab system shines under Windows Mobile’s multi-tasking capability.  If memory becomes an issue, a tab’s memory may be released by tapping and holding on its icon and selecting “Free tab”.

Have it your way

Accessing PocketBreeze’s options is simple.  Just tap on the tool icon to get the context menu.  Select Options… from the menu.  The same selection exists on other context menus and as a separate shortcut for your launcher.  The tool icon menu also allows the user to minimize PocketBreeze 5 and collapse the listings under their headings.

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PocketBreeze has a dizzying array of options available, all intelligently organized in categorized screens. The screen shot above displays the option screen categories. Each category holds a host of individual settings that may be adjusted to the user's tastes. Font face and size, colors, D-pad actions, how to display tasks with or separately from appointments, default PIM, category icons/colors, tab locations, custom tab settings, appearance of individual display elements, skins, and a host of other preferences make PocketBreeze one of the most customizable programs on the market.

Hardware and Tech Support

PocketBreeze 5 supports both QVGA and VGA devices. For those who use OzVGA or another utility to force "true" VGA, PocketBreeze has two settings to accommodate this mode without the user having to manually select larger fonts and icons. It worked flawlessly. In fact, I found PocketBreeze to be the most trouble-free of all the apps that I've run in "true" VGA mode.

PocketBreeze 5 supports Windows Mobile 2003, 2003SE, and WM5 as well as older PPC 2002 devices. It truly looks great on them all.

Technical support from SBSH sets the standard for the entire Windows Mobile marketplace. Questions usually find answers in minutes on their excellent and very active forum. The inevitable bugs often meet the Raid can within days or a week at most. I honestly don't know if these folks ever sleep.

The Bottom Line

PocketBreeze 5.0 makes an outstanding Today plug-in PIM even better by adding Notes and Messages tabs, unlimited custom tabs, Windows Mobile 5 support, and a 12-day trial period. Tabs may now be displayed on the top bar or down the side. PocketBreeze 5 provides advanced support for Pocket Informant and Agenda Fusion, and includes about every feature imaginable for schedule and task management, including its own category icons if you don't use Pocket Informant or Agenda Fusion. SBSH provides a number of other fine programs for Windows Mobile devices, but PocketBreeze stands as their flagship application. At $14.95 for new users, PocketBreeze 5.0 seems a steal for all that it does. No one with a Windows Mobile device and a hectic schedule should be without it. After all, you don't want to wind up in barbarian armor ladling porridge to make ends meet…

Pros:
Display/track/manipulate appointments, tasks, notes, email messages, and more
Seamless integration with Pocket Informant and Agenda Fusion
Context menus virtually everywhere for quick access to relevant functions
Unlimited custom tabs for Today screen plug-ins with flexible memory management
Horizontal or vertical tab placement
Powerful display filtering
Category colors and icons
Seemingly unlimited customizability in appearance and function
VGA and Windows Mobile 5 support
Unmatched technical support

Cons:
A bit slow coming out of Options if loaded in Built-in Storage
Not having it on your Today screen

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$14.95

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