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Palm Office Suites
Posted Feb. 2004 by Tanker Bob -- Page 4, continued

Mobile Word 2004 2.10 from Mobile Systems

Mobile Systems' reputation has been made with their excellent dictionary programs, although they offer a wide variety of quality applications. Mobile Word comes as the newest addition to the Palm word processor market. The approach seems simple enough: this app tries to look and work as much like MS Word as possible. I'm happy to say that Mobile Word is well on the way to achieving that lofty goal.

The file list comes up with sizes, sync status, and a tool bar for common file functions. Internal icons can be assigned to documents to aid in quick identification. Currently opened docs in RAM appear in bold type.

Mobile Word supports both the translation from the desktop and internal creation of complex formatting, bulleted lists, tables, and pictures in documents. It uses Mobile Paint (discussed below) to handle all graphics and the importing of TrueType fonts. Double tapping on a graphic automatically brings up Mobile Paint with the graphic loaded. Tables can be nested and include pictures. Anything that you can import intact from MS Word you can create in Mobile Word from scratch on the handheld.

The spell checking uses a large word database (about 1 MB) in Mobile Word and closely parallels that in MS Word. The handheld can be set to underline misspelled words with red lines like the desktop. Selecting an underlined word and then tapping the spell check icon brings up a dialog with suggested spellings as well as options to ignore the word or add it to the dictionary, which can be stored on the card. This implementation proved very effective. The gapping hole in the implementation is the lack of ability to spell check just the selection. When trying to spell check just one red underlined word, Mobile Word moves on to try to spell check the rest of the document.

In addition, Mobile Word can be set to suggest completed words as you type. It uses the same dictionary as spell check, and may be customized in behavior. I didn't use this as "typing" in MessagEase4T3 or FitalyT3 is faster than always looking up to the screen all the time. Graffiti uses should take careful note of this capability, though.

Mobile Word boasts full WYSIWYG formatting, including TrueType fonts converted from the desktop, and page layout/orientation control. Mobile Systems claims that Mobile Word stands unique in its use of TrueType on the handheld, but in fact WordSmith has done this for several years already. All major formatting, including insertion of tables and pictures, can be done from the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Spell checking can also be initiated from here. The toolbar has the look and feel of the MS Office toolbars and is quite attractive.

Mobile Word clearly needs further development, though. The most glaring shortfall has to be the lack of Undo/Redo capability. What were they thinking? That one bit me during testing. It supports neither footnotes nor bookmarks, either. Judging from file sizes on my T3, documents don't compress. These shortfalls need to be addressed soon for Mobile Word to achieve the deep market penetration of its competitors.

Mobile Paint-wow! Here's an app for your Palm with virtually all the functionality of MS Paint on your desktop. It can import/export bitmaps and JPEGs, view them, scale them, resize, crop, rotate, flip, work transparency, and invert colors.

I imported one of my ZLauncher background images to test Mobile Paint, then scaled it by half to import into a table in a test document. The process couldn't have been simpler or work any better. In addition to working with images, you can draw your own graphics using the on-screen tools, which can be hidden. You could even annotate an image with text or markings.

Mobile Paint works with bitmaps and jpegs, including pictures taken with your digital camera. If it worked with the pcx files from ZGrab, I wouldn't need MS Paint to resize and convert images for these reviews. I could capture the screens I needed, resize them, and insert them directly into the doc on my Palm.

In addition to working with graphics, Mobile Paint also provides the mechanism to import TrueType fonts. Simply copy the fonts you want on your handheld into a directory you choose on your PC and HotSync. Don't get carried away, though, as these will reside in RAM on your Palm. Fonts can be viewed via the TT tool in Paint.

Mobile Word comes with a desktop tool to control synchronization. These weren't as elaborate as DTG, but they provided everything needed for excellent service. It also integrates into MS Word's menu system for seamless work between the desktop and handheld.

So, just how good is Mobile Word/Paint in real life? After importing the pcx graphics into MS Word on the desktop, I HotSynced the review to Mobile Word on my T3 so that I could write parts of this review in front of my fireplace. This approach succeeded flawlessly. I always enjoy a good story by the fire!

I should note before closing that Mobile Systems offers packages they call offices, but they don't parallel MS Office functionality. That's the reason they weren't included in this review.

Mobile Systems offers Mobile Word for $29.95, which includes Mobile Paint and, for Palm OS 4 users, Font Bucket to manage TT fonts on those devices. OS 5 devices don't need Font Bucket. I think that Mobile Word has the potential to dominate the Palm word processing market with just a few additional basic capabilities.

Great interface
Powerful document creation capability on the Palm
Seamless integration with MS Word
Excellent Paint app

No accompanying MS Office-type suite
No undo/redo/footnote/bookmark support
Large footprint on handheld (about 4 MB out of the box w/Paint and TT fonts)





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