UsedHandhelds.com “The Great Handheld PC Software & Resource CD 2007”
Chris Tilley | Editor-in-Chief
If there is probably one single thing that I am not used to in dealing with the Handheld PC it is boxed software. I am sure that I will be speaking for myself here, but when I was presented with a neatly wrapped USPS ‘priority mail’ package a slight twang of panic came over me as I had to try and remember exactly what a CD was and how one uses it in conjunction with a Handheld PC.
… Thankfully that moment of terror didn’t last very long.
Operating out of Iowa in the United States, UsedHandheld’s are the commercial front-end of Thaddeus Computing Inc, the people behind Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine. The UsedHandheld’s team have been integral to the Handheld PC movement since the days before they were even called Handheld PC’s. Thaddeus has ridden the wave of every successive Microsoft PDA release into the market going all the way back to 1985 – starting of course with the early MS-DOS versions!
Despite the magazine’s shifting focus onto other areas, the bread and butter of UsedHandheld’ activity continues to revolve around the venerable Handheld PC. The team remain focused on community activity and have extensive contacts within the developer community, which has given rise to the promotional release of “The Great Handheld PC Software & Resource CD”.
The idea is simple: Take a handful of the most popular ‘must have’ Handheld PC software applications, put full versions of them onto one CD and sell it for an irresistible (and downright crazy) price.
The CD is written in a web readable format, and is compatible with your systems native web browser (be it Internet Explorer, Firefox etc.). The main interface provides simple navigation around the disk - which doesn't require an internet connection to use. Stylistically the layout is clean and neatly presented, including the usual good humour that we expect from the Thaddeus team.
While the interface won't win any web design awards, and some of the pages are a little long because of weight of content, one cannot argue that it is very easy to navigate around. I would have liked to see individual full version product information spread out in more detail in a dedicated page structure (giving emphasise as a showcase), particularly with the inclusion of the information (which I somewhat painstakingly provide below) on precisely which product builds are included on the customised CD content redistributable's.
The content of the CD is subjectively organised into three categories: ‘Software’, ‘Resources’ and ‘Help’.
The CD bundle offers Handheld PC users the chance to get hold of some of the most popular and most expensive H/PC applications at a heavily discounted price and in a single transaction – useful if currency conversions are involved in buying.
The software section is divided into three areas, the ‘Full Versions’ bundle, a set of recommended on-line software resources and a listing of good freeware links.
The meat of the section, and indeed the product itself comes in the form of the fifteen full versions of popular H/PC retail application. It is here that for the first time in a long while that UsedHandhelds excelled themselves in successfully bringing on board some of the most prestigious names in Windows CE software development - specifically for the creation of this bundle.
Between the offerings from these developers you get full versions of (in alphabetical order):
As you will see from my breakdown, the majority of the applications revolve around use on the StrongArm/XScale processor – that of the respective Jornada 700 and MobilePro 900 series devices.
For the full software products, installation codes are provided in the main body of the ‘Full Versions’ section of the CD. In addition to product installation/registration codes, each copy of the CD ships with a registered and unique serial number. The serial number ties your purchase into the licenses, and is used specifically in the registration process of PocketDOS as well as identifying your license to UsedHandheld’s support.
The UsedHandheld's CD was originally compiled at the same time as SoftMaker were undergoing pre-release testing of their 2006 versions of TextMaker and PlanMaker. Unfortunately, the 2006 versions have not been included on the CD, and only the StrongArm/XScale version of TextMaker 2002 is bundled - the last release in the line to formally support a MIPS platform. In reality this shouldn't hinder purchasers, as both editions of TextMaker and PlanMaker are by no means poor substitutes to their 2006 counterparts and are over-powered for the needs of most users (saying something exceptional about SoftMaker's products). For users who desire only the latest and greatest, the discount opportunities from SoftMaker are at your disposal as a registered UsedHandheld's CD owner; and factoring in the cost savings with the discount still make for an excellent investment decision.
The resources section contains a short directory to some of the Internets best web resources for Handheld PC users including HPCNEC, The Handheld PC Newsletter and us here at HPC:Factor who all had a part in the creation of the CD.
Compendiums of the Handheld PC Newsletter can also be found on the CD, covering the first two years of editorial at the publication.
UsedHandheld’s originally designed The Great Handheld PC Software & Resource CD to compliment their recent entry into the MobilePro 900/900C market. As such the CD contains suggestions, hints, tips and tricks for enabling new MobilePro users to get the most from their purchase. The CD also contains useful and relevant information for Jornada users and is designed to help them find their feet and get through some of the most common problems experienced by new users.
The guides have been written in part with the help of HPCNEC and through CESD’s here at HPC:Factor. While they will not form a key selling point for existing Handheld PC users, the guides are concise and well written, and will be especially useful for their intended audience; brand new users. The Wireless Network guide which gives detailed instructions on using UsedHandheld’s Linksys WPC11 adapters straight from the box is particularly useful, as it applies to not only the UsedHandheld’s adapter, but a wide range of Prism based cards.
As I mentioned before, a potential blessing for International users is the opportunity not only to save money, but to purchase licenses for so many applications in a single transaction. UsedHandheld’s have an excellent reputation in dealing with overseas customers and will ship anywhere in the world.
The CD was sent via priority mail, with delivery from the USA to the UK in exactly 7 days, including clearing through customs. The disc comes well wrapped to survive the journey and is immediately identifiable with the familiar SmartPhone & Pocket PC Magazine logo adorning the address label.
Significantly, the CD is covered by UsedHandheld’s no-quibble 30-day money back guarantee (so long as the software licenses have not been activated) so in the event that there is a problem you can rest assured of a speedy resolution. UsedHandheld’s have always had fast response times to technical and sales requests, and in our experience have always put their customers at the forefront of their business activities.
It is important to note however that UsedHandheld’s are not offering a technical support commitment on the software applications found on the CD. Users who are experiencing difficulties with individual applications are encouraged to make use of peer support through the SmartPhone & Pocket PC Magazine or HPC:Factor forums - or contact the application vendor directly.
Seal the deal
The Great Handheld PC Software & Resource CD comes with some excellent applications with which you can enhance your Handheld PC, but price is key. In this regard UsedHandheld’s have pulled a rabbit out of the proverbial hat.
By my calculations (made just before publishing), the cumulative software package - if purchased from the respective developers - would set a Handheld PC user back some $362.54 USD (£191.00 GBP, €273.13 EUD, ¥38,200 JPY est.).
UsedHandheld’s are selling the same software bundle as a retail package for $99.90 (£52.60 GBP, €75.22 EUD, ¥10,520 JPY est.); a saving of more than 3.5 times the application list prices.
In addition, if you are in the market for your first Handheld PC, or are looking to update to a newer model, UsedHandheld’s are offering the resource CD for free with any MobilePro 900/900C purchase, or for a discounted price of $39.00 USD with any Jornada 720 purchase.
Clearly the CD is going to be of specific interest to users of the Jornada 700 series and MobilePro 900/900C users. The two devices sum up a broad area of the Handheld PC market, which I dare say is by far the largest market segment. Although some HPC2000 MIPS users may feel a little disappointed because a number of the applications lack compatible binaries for their equipment, the bundle still represents a cost-saving. Other Handheld PC and Windows CE device owners who have access to a StrongArm/XScale devices will be able to make use of the bundle (for example devices of the SimPAD or SmartBook lineage), and given the current buyers market situation in the second-hand device market, the timely availability of the CD only seeks to add to the affordability of the Handheld PC in 2007 – particularly the PIM defunct CE .net platform.
UsedHandheld’s have created a stunning product which demonstrates that like us, they have confidence in the continued productivity benefits and freedom offered by the H/PC. The CD makes some of the top applications, designed by the Windows CE world’s most skilled developers affordable and within the budgetary grasp of users entering the H/PC through the second hand market.
The clear, concise and well presented package outlines the best of what is still achievable from a Handheld PC making the disc an opportunity that any H/PC user would be mad to pass over; even if you are only interested in one or two of the applications on the billing.
If you are a CE .net (4.0-4.2) user then this is an opportunity to get excited about. The CD will allow you to recover all of the missing functionality from HPC2000 – and more, hopefully rediscovering the convenience of your device in the process!
Quite simply this is one offer you simply cannot afford to miss.
ActiveSync 3.1 or higher for host installation. An internet connection and email address is required to register PocketDOS.
Want to let us know what you think of this review? Click here to have your say in the Forums!