Solutions in Hand started
by developing Pilot MiniCalc some years ago. Since then, it
has set the standard for Palm spreadsheets. The original spreadsheet
heritage remains visible today in the suite.
As you can see from the illustration, MiniWrite
doesn't fit the bill as a word processor in the sense now
used. Solutions in Hand bills MiniWrite as a text editor
for standard Palm docs and that's exactly what it is. No
advanced formatting support exists-no table, graphic, or
footnote support. The good news? MiniWrite uses standard
Palm text fields, so third-party macros, etc., work just
fine. Although not a true word processor, there's still a
niche for these apps.
MiniWrite sports a toolbar across the bottom
of the screen. It provides the most useful functions ready
at the tap of your stylus. It even comes with a help file
that lines up arrow and labels with the toolbar for easy
MiniDict furnishes one particularly interesting
feature. Available separately or as part of the pro package,
it ties tightly to MiniWrite through an icon at the bottom
of the latter's screen. Although it does not spell check,
it will look up words quickly in a large WordNet 1.71 database.
Because MiniWrite supports Palm fields,
I took most of my notes during usage testing in it. It automatically
saves documents when exiting the docs, so protects the user
from accidental losses. It also comes with a desktop conversion
tool that translates text files to/from Palm doc format.
MiniCalc stands as a well established leader
amongst Palm spreadsheets. MiniCalc supports 86 built-in
functions, including financial, scientific, statistical,
and others. The spreadsheets can be up to 256 columns x 9999
rows, with a 12K character limit per individual cell. Text
in cells can even be word wrapped or extend across columns
if there is no adjacent data. MiniCalc supports multiple
sheets per workbook, and also supports external links. The
interface is graphical--very similar to MS Excel. Tapping
and holding on row or column labels, but not on individual
cells, brings up context menus similar to Excel.
MiniCalc supports rich formatting similar
to Excel. Cell sizes, fore/background colors, number formats,
alignments and word wrapping, font sizes/effects, and locking
can be done on a sheet, row/column/, and individual cell
level. Sheets can also be passworded for security and compressed
to save space.
Speaking of Excel, MiniCalc synchronizes
seamlessly with the desktop standard in its 97/2000/XP iterations.
It interfaces through menus added to the Excel menu bar.
Importing and exporting spreadsheets is straightforward from
the menu through a graphical dialog box. MiniCalc fully supports
VFS natively to store it data files on memory cards, as well
as Sony and now Palm OS5 color hi res displays. Like most
programs, only data in RAM will be synchronized, so you'll
have to move changed sheets from the card to RAM if you want
to save their changes on the PC. MinCalc also supports passwording
individual sheets apart from the Palm OS system. The included
manual is excellent.
MiniCalc ships with MiniChart. Creating
a chart is similar to the Excel process, but most of the
text formatting derives from the originating sheet. MiniChart
supports clustered and stacked columns, plain and marked
lines, xy scatter, and pie chart formats. Charts act just
like they were embedded in the originating sheet itself.
I plotted the battery life of my old T615C and T665C with
little difficulty, but found the text part of the chart,
especially the labeling of series, to be less than straightforward.
The charting module could use an upgrade to increase the
usability of the text formatting and series labeling, but
the actual data charts very well. MiniCalc allows the user
to extend the selections to non-adjacent cells, facilitating
the creation of more complex charts than its competition.
Solutions in Hand includes additional font
support for small and tiny fonts in addition to normal fonts.
These provide the ability to view large sheets easily on
the handheld, or enlarge the fonts for easy reading for older
eyes. Again, this can be done at the cell level.
A bonus that ships with MiniCalc and MiniWrite
is the McCalc calculator. This gem has scientific, transcendental,
financial, and graphing modules which can interact with each
other to write equations. It takes algebraic inputs, including
equations to plot or just to provide numerical answers. I
elected to illustrate the charting screen displaying sin(x/2).
I was legitimately surprised by what this little program
could do, but the docs are almost non-existent. It requires
MiniCalc installed to function.
Solutions At Hand provides MiniCalc, MiniChart,
MiniWrite, and McCalc as MiniOffice for $34.95 (normally
$39.95) until Feb 29, 2004. Adding MiniDict makes MiniOffice
Deluxe for $39.95 (normally $49.95) until Feb 29, 2004. MiniCalc
still stands as the best spreadsheet for your handheld, but
MiniWrite is simply a Palm doc editor rather than a full-blown
The best Palm spreadsheet with excellent desktop synchronization
Powerful cell formatting options in spreadsheet
Spreadsheets can be compressed
Nice graphing calculator
No real word processor
No PowerPoint support