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Resco Explorer 2005

Review posted Sept. 2005 by Tanker Bob

One of the big advantages of the Windows Mobile operating system is its familiar file system. But with 32 or 64 M B of RAM, plus high-capacity CF and SD cards, how do you manage all those files? Well, you need a good file manager, and Resco has just the program for you. Resco Explorer 2005 (v5.21) promises to handle your files and then some.

Tanker Bob tested Resco Explorer 2005 on a Dell Axim X50v running Windows Mobile 2003SE with a 624MH z CPU and VGA screen. Resco Explorer was installed into Built-in Storage (flash ROM).

Getting Started

 

 

When first opening Resco, things should look very familiar. The default screen looks like PPC File Explorer, except for the toolbar at the bottom. This is the folder view. You can tap Resco’s power from this view, but there are more interesting views available.

 

 

I came very quickly to prefer the tree view with a vertical split. This view allows you to scan your device, network shares, FTP sites, and registry at a glance on the left side, while listing directory or archive contents on the right side. The overall design of Resco File Explorer generally follows Windows Explorer on the desktop. I’m not a fan of Windows Explorer and never use it, but the scheme works better on a handheld than on the desktop, especially with Resco’s enhancements.

A Guided Tour

The toolbars at the bottom of the screen furnish quick access to key functions. The upper bar, from left to right, goes to My Device, Back, Forward, Properties, Find Files, Encrypt, Compress, Send to, and Network Shortcuts. This toolbar may be hidden using the first icon on the bottom toolbar.

The bottom toolbar provides access to the menu system in addition to the toggle for the bar above it, move up one level, cut, copy, paste, delete, and the SIP. As you can see, if a tool has nothing to do, Resco grays it out. Very nice touch.

 

The File menu lets you create new folders in the same manner as Windows Explorer on the desktop, receive files, run applications, set options, obtain system information, register the software, and make or select favorite locations. The Edit menu allows you to paste or paste as a shortcut, select all or invert the selection, set Drag’n’Drop Mode or single/multi file selection, or find files. The screenshot shows the view menu that customi zes the display on the fly.

 

 

For added flexibility, tapping and holding on a file or folder produces a context-sensitive pop-up menu. The screenshot shows the host of options available from the file pop-up. This became my primary means of manipulating files. Choosing to move or copy the file brings up a directory tree of your device from which you choose the file’s destination. A nice progress bar keeps you informed of the progress. This motif works across all modules seamlessly, including the network and FTP sites.

In addition, Resco Explorer contains a built-in file viewer. It will display TXT, BIN, or HEX file formats, along with pictures stored as JPEG, GIF, BMP, and PNG files. Resco also sports a search facility for finding stuff in text files. This viewing feature adds considerable convenience to Explorer when managing photo collections.

The Favorites feature came in quite handy. Simply ask Explorer to memori ze locations that you visit frequently. Then rather than navigate through the directory structure every time, you can simply select the favorite and Resco jumps right to that location. Nice implementation.

Beyond File Management

Resco Explorer does much more than manage files. As hinted above, it delivers FTP access, a registry editor, file compression, and encryption.

The FTP, registry and network capabilities use the exact same motif as the file system. Resco makes it incredibly easy to tap the power of this tool set. Even compressed files may be used like folders in the tree view. The FTP implementation transfers files quickly and easily. Setting up connections proved simple and quick. Simply tap and hold on an FTP location and choose Connect from the pop-up menu. The login process pops up a window from which you can monitor that process, but the logins went so quickly on the X50v that I really couldn’t read the screen before it disappeared. After login, the FTP site displays just like any directory set on your PDA or local network. Very cool.

The network browser works exactly the same way. Network connections must be set by the user. In order to simplify this process, Resco browses your network neighborhood for servers. You then specify the preset share on the server to which you wish to connect and provide the password if set. Transfers to and from the network went quickly. There’s only one catch: You can only browse networks over a WiFi or Bluetooth connection, not through the US B connector. Make sure that you enable Windows File and Print Sharing on your desktop system and open those ports in your firewall to allow connectivity.

Editing the Registry

WARNING: Editing the registry should only be attempted by advanced users. Incorrectly editing the registry could render your device inoperative and require a hard reset.

Editing the registry with Resco Explorer furnishes the PPC user with a desktop-like interface and function. Anyone who has ever used RegEdit in Windows will feel right at home. The interface is almost exactly the same for both browsing and searching. You can search the registry keys, values, and data selectively and quickly. This powerful capability enables a user to modify the operating system’s behavior, or the setup of an application.

Explorer has the ability to export and import the registry. Backing up by exporting is always a good idea before editing the registry in any serious way. As another safety valve, every registry editing screen has a Cancel selection. I found the registry editing in Resco Explorer to be equal in capability to that available on the desktop.

Encryption

Resco Explorer 2005 can keep your critical and sensitive data from prying eyes. It natively supports the RC2 (40bit) and DES (56bit) algorithms on all platforms. On Windows Mobile 2003 or higher devices it also supports the more powerful RC2-128, DES-56, 3DES TWO KEY-112, and 3DES-168 encodings. Older PPC 2002 and 2000 handhelds must install Microsoft’s High Encryption Package to obtain the higher level encryptions.

Customizing Resco File Explorer

Resco provides settings for virtually every major function, plus the interface. The interface font may be set in size, and can be bolded and use ClearType. Add-ins may be deactivated or activated, file associations created or edited, file listings customi zed and vertical or horizontal display-split set, use the internal or an external viewer, file-action confirmations set, zip compression and extraction specified, registry actions limited, and FTP settings defined. You can even return everything to its default setting with one tap. The combination of all this enables the user to limit possible losses by accidental or stray taps or other actions. All option screens are uncluttered and appear well thought out.

Action on the Today Screen

Brand new to this version, Resco included a set of system meters and a simple program launcher for the Today screen.

 

screen shot

 

The Today applet may display system meters, folders, and application shortcuts. The screenshot shows the default setup with a full set of system meters and all installed Resco applications presented. Other applications and folders may be added in its Today setup screen. Tapping on the meter values cycles between different data displays. For example, the memory meter cycles between free, used, total, and percentage used. Tapping on the icon representing the item covered by the meter brings up the system screens for the battery and memory meters, and Resco File Explorer for the storage icons. The settings may be reached by tapping the far left icon. The Today window automatically si zes to accommodate all the items selected for display.

HP Mobile Printing

Resco supports the free HP Mobile Printing for PPC. Although I didn’t load or test this, HP advertises the ability to print directly from Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Pocket Internet Explorer, Pocket Outlook, and File Explorer on your PDA to Bluetooth, infrared and network printers. Obviously Resco Explorer will also print using this system. Can’t beat the price.

System Information

Resco provides a separate application that shows the current system status.

 

screen shot

 

The main screen offers the amount and percentage used of each resource. Again tapping on the item icons bring up the same displays as their counterparts in the Today application. The screen may be reached from the File menu, from the Today plug-in, or directly through its shortcut on the Windows’ Programs screen.

Exploring the Wilds

Resco Explorer proved simple to setup and use. All confirmation dialogs come enabled by default, so you may safely use the system right out of the box. Anyone who has used Microsoft Windows Explorer will quickly master Resco’s offering. You may omit installing those elements which you don’t need or want. There’s no program on the market with more capability and yet a tighter focus on its mission.

The Today plug-in also enables itself during installation if installed, though it is optional. It provides useful information about your system through an attractive interface. Adding, subtracting, and rearranging elements in it proved simple. However, even the compact mode can take up a lot of Today screen real estate depending on the number of shortcuts displayed. Resco doesn’t support tabs, so shortcuts for all the programs you wish to access will be presented on the screen. Unless you only use a few programs or you have space to burn on your Today screen, this plug-in really won’t serve as a front-line file launcher like iLauncher ( Tanker Bob’s personal favorite) and others.

Resco Explorer’s desktop Windows-based interface unfortunately shares the most annoying of the limitations therein. This would be the lack of support for two directory windows. Resco will open a directory tree window if asked; either hori zontally or vertically split, but not two directories’ file lists in separate windows. This makes comparing directories or even individual files difficult.

All other aspects of Resco Explorer shine brightly. It loads quickly, furnishes a full suite of capabilities to organi ze and maintain your files. The local file, FTP, network, and registry interface seamlessly offers all these elements as if they were natively on your handheld. The Paste Shortcut feature is small but extremely useful. I found myself using it quite a bit to c leanup after or finish many freeware installations.

File transfer rates ran close to the native WiFi speed limit for the X50v, indicating high efficiency in the program’s coding. In fact, I was hard pressed to discern a difference in speed between copying files from RAM to a card, FTP site, or a network drive. The ability to select multiple files and drag-and-drop sped up even simple file management tasks.

Conclusion

Resco Explorer 2005 stands at the top of its class. It does everything you could possibly want to do with your files, does it easily with a simple interface, and leverages its power through well-designed toolbars and tap-and-hold menus. The built-in file viewer and new Today plug-in sweeten the pot even more. There are several free file managers snapping at Resco’s heels, but none are as polished or sport the full breadth of Resco’s capabilities. Priced at $24.95, Resco File Explorer 2005 easily earns its keep. It is an even better bargain as part of Resco’s $34.95 Utility Package with Resco Photo Viewer and Resco Stickies. Resco Photo Viewer does much more than just view graphics files, but that’s a story for another day…

Pros:

Simple, familiar interface
Supports VGA
Comprehensive file management tool set
Underlying power easily accessible through toolbars and pop-up menus
Full FTP, network, and registry editing support
Encryption and file compression support built-in
Integral file viewer
Quickly jumps to favorite locations
Fast file transfers
Core functions highly configurable
WM 5 compatible

Cons:

Doesn’t support two file windows
Today program launcher limited without tab support

$24.95

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