Our friends over at PhatWare recently contacted us to try out the latest release of PhatNotes, version 5.3. I jumped on this opportunity as it has been a long time since I reviewed one of their products. PhatNotes is an alternative to the built in notes application in Windows Mobile. In fact, not only is it an alternative option, it has advanced features not present in ‘Notes” in Windows Mobile. Best of all, you can customize it, and it is very simple and easy to use. You also get a desktop component that syncs with the PhatNotes on the device.
If you are using a Pocket PC, you can install PhatNotes on any device running Windows Mobile 2003, WM5, or WM6. You can even install it to a storage card. All you need is approximately 1mb space. Note though that the actual notes database will be stored on the device itself. If you are using a Windows Mobile Smartphone, all you need is approximately 400K free space for full installation. Same comment goes for the notes databases itself. Additional space for storage is dependent on how many notes you have and how large they are obviously.
For the complete specifications including the desktop component, you can visit this page.
I installed the software on my iPaq 210 and my desktop with the .exe file. You can also install only the handheld component using a .Cab file. You really do not need the desktop part, but it is nice to have and be able to use on a larger screen with a full keyboard. Lastly, if you do not want to install another separate application on your desktop computer, PhatWare sells a version that syncs directly with Microsoft Outlook. I installed the standard package software once I downloaded it and had it up and running in minutes. It is very easy to do, as it should be. You can see the separate sync option in active sync when the device gets connected to sync.
Product Highlights and Specs:
There are a lot of features and specs that goes along with this application. I can’t imagine the amount of work and hours put into the development of it. Whether you are an existing PhatWare product user or potential new customer, you will appreciate the various options available to you. Below is a PARTIAL list of the Pocket PC and Smartphone items that are new in this version that is listed on their website. If you visit here you can see the full listing of all the new options in this version.
- PhatSpell - Multilingual spell checker (US English dictionary is included, dictionaries for other supported languages can be downloaded
- Support for rich text formatting (WM5 or later)
- Added paragraph spacing setting to the Paragraph dialog box
- Added The Set Paragraph numbering dialog box (WM5 or later)
- Line Spacing and Set Paragraph Numbering options have been added to the Paragraph dialog (WM5 or later)
- Allows renaming linked notes and attachments.
- Paste Special command added in the note editor window
Pocket PC specific
- Added new buttons and 2nd toolbar for the Note Editor dialog
- Added new text formatting features (WM5 or later)
- Added paragraph and line spacing settings to the Paragraph dialog box (WM5 or later)
- Four new paragraph formatting buttons have been added to the Note Editor toolbars (WM5 or later)
- Allows renaming linked notes and attachments.
- Changed behavior of 5-way navigator in the main window: up/down keys allow you to scroll the database list, notes list, or preview depending on the focus, left/right keys allow to move the current input focus. “
Benefits and Features
The following benefits and features listed below can also be found on Phatware’s website HERE
Under each feature I will either add a screenshot and or comment I have from using PhatNotes during my test. PhatWare created a very detailed and thorough product description for the consumer which is why I have used their webpage listing for reference. Why create the wheel twice is my motto?
Organize your notes - by clicking on the column header buttons you can sort notes by creation date, modification date, subject and type. (Lou's notes: There are various sort options available)
Compatibility - export and import notes as text files or transfer data to and from other applications using copy and paste. (Lou’s notes: This is very handy)
Efficiency - small size of the program and compressed database leaves plenty of storage space. (Lou’s Notes: I installed mine in my iPaq file store. I do not have a lot of notes set up right now, but it does not slow up my device at all)
Privacy - protect notes from unauthorized access with a password and 256-bit strong encryption algorithm. (Lou’s Notes: If you want a note protected, all you do is find the note, press on it and wait for a menu to pop up. From here you just select properties and select Protect. Also, as a side note, while you are at that screen, you can also set up a reminder alarm as well.)
Simple User Interface - intuitive user interface allows you to start using PhatNotes right away. (Lou’s notes: This is very true. If you have a couple minutes to play around with it, check out the settings and options and get familiar with it. However, everything is straight forward and can be used immediately after installation)
Email capability - send email messages directly from the Note Editor by clicking on the Send Mail button. (Lou’s notes: You can send emails directly from the PhatNotes application. See the screenshots for the setup and the confirmation message that also pops up after creating it.)
Customizable Views - provides a wide range of modifiable look and feel settings.
Advanced Filters and Text Search - allows a user to search one or more notes databases for a specific text or a regular expression, and filter by text, creation, modification, authoring dates, color, and priority.
ActiveSync support - allows synchronization of multiple notes databases with the desktop PC. (Lou’s Notes: You can do it this way, sync it with Outlook Directly or just use the application on your device. It is your preference)
Microsoft Outlook Support - import or export Microsoft Outlook notes and email messages. (Lou’s Notes: This is another handy feature. Also, don’t forget what I said about syncing to Outlook should you want that option. As a side thought, the desktop component to me looks very similar to some of the MS Outlook screens. I need to play around with this some more, but it was “eye” friendly and not confusing)
Hyperlinks between Notes - allows a user to create links and cross references notes. (Lou’s Notes: When you are in the note creation stage, you would click on menu, insert, link and select the other note that you want to link to. Once setup, in each of the two notes, you will see the notes file name. Once you click on that, it will bring you to the other note that is linked to it. When you are at that note, you will see the link to the first note.)
Comprehensive User's Guide - 180 pages long PhatNotes User's Guide is also available in HTML and PDF formats online. (Lou’s notes: Who needs instructions? It’s like asking for directions! Don’t worry, if you need any support with the application, there is help available)
File Attachments - up to 32 files can be linked to a note. (Lou’s Notes: I did not have that many in my database but can you see the potential here)
Database Tree View - optional database view provides easy access to multiple notes databases.)
Spell Checker - now includes PhatSpell Spell Checker with the English dictionary (dictionaries for other languages supported by PhatSpell can be downloaded from PhatWare web site free of charge). (Lou’s notes: NICE and handy!!)
Today screen add-on - provides an easy access to PhatNotes application recently modified notes directly from the Pocket PC today screen. (Lou’s notes: This is a nice feature also. I tried it out but it added some extra content to my today screen. I am one of those people who like the Today screen with just the right amount of info on it, my way. I unchecked the PhatNotes today option. Just my preference)
Customizable Toolbars - choose from the selection of over 30 buttons. (Lou’s Notes: And Options Galore!!)
Text Formatting - text formatting is now supported on Pocket PCs.
PhatPad support - PhatNotes provides direct access to PhatPad, which allows a user to attach handwritten notes in just two taps. (Lou’s Notes: I did not try this during my test. I can attest to the compatibility though that PhatWare builds into their different product offerings though)
How does it work?
That is a good question. I don’t know, it just works, and it works well. As you may know from my other reviews, I like simplicity and the truth is I will probably never use and or change all the options that are available to me. I looked at all the options and settings when I installed it and I did not really make any changes than which was installed as the default. PhatNotes allows you to use the WM2003 “Classic” look where the buttons and menus are at the bottom of the screen. The default view is the two softkeys as in WM5 and 6. I liked that one better. Going through the application, you will see all the various settings and options you have that has been pointed out above. Another very handy feature is that there is another button installed called “PhatWare Update.” You need to be connected to the Internet to use it but it basically looks for any product updates that may be available. You also see some suggestions for additional PhatWare products listed here also.
Pricing and availability
You can purchase PhatNotes directly from PhatWare.
Here are some of the pricing options.
If you are a current registered owner of a PhatNotes 5.x version, the upgrade is free.
Registered users of PhatNotes 4.x Smartphone, Standard, or Professional Edition can upgrade for $24.95.
If you have an earlier version of PhatNotes that is not listed above or are a new customer, the cost is $39.95.
If you want to get the special version 5.2 that links directly to MS Outlook, the cost is $19.95.
First off, thank you to PhatWare for sending this software for me to try out. I have always been a fan of their software because it is not complicated to use, but yet powerful and functional. I have never had any issues with their software in the past, nor did I have any during this test. My review was intended to give an additional glimpse into how this tool works, but it ultimately comes down to how you like it, how you use it and what your needs are. PhatWare offers a 30 day Free Trial for PhatNotes. My suggestion, as always, is to download it free and try it for yourself. What do you have to lose? Have Fun with it.