Software Reviews

3

Review: MobiPDFScanner by MobiToad

Ran across an interesting Windows Mobile application the other day that turns your Windows phone camera into a document scanner. MobiPDFScanner from Mobitoad gives you the ability to convert pictures of a document into .pdf format. From there you can save or email the files, giving your camera a little more versatility.

Ease on past the break to read more about MobiPDFScanner to see if it was a hit or miss.

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11

Review: Tower Defense

 

I’ve said before, some applications (more specifically, games) lend themselves more easily to a mobile platform such as Windows Phones. The trick for software developers is to create an immersive gaming experience without making the game difficult to use or compromising performance. Tower Defense from Color Stone does an admirable job of entertaining the user while still being perfectly playable.

Click on through for the full review.

Pros: 
Nice Graphics. Speed Controls.
Cons: 
Minimum VGA resolution could be restrictive
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3

Review: Langlearner language applications

Microsoft's Marketplace offers a wide assortment of applications ranging from games to utilities to educational applications. Langlearner has developed three applications to help with language and spelling skills.

LangLearner Lite is an instructional application where you can learn languages through short phrases. LangLearner Translator is, as the title implies, a translation application and. LangLearner Spelling Bee is a learning aid for spelling.

We've used these applications over the past few days and found them to be interesting, useful applications.  As the developer's slogan suggests, these applications do help break the language barrier.

Ease on past the break to find out more about each of these LangLearner applications.

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Review: Trapster

 

I can remember a time that CB Radios and FuzzBusters were the craze to keep track of where the "Smokies" and "Bears" were hiding.  Today, in this high-tech era full of social networking applications a new solution has been released to help motorist find out where speed traps are.

Trapster is a Windows Mobile application that relies on a social network to identify speed traps and then maps them for mobile and desktop access.  Trapster's membership covers international locations as well as the U.S.

While we don't endorse speeding, if you want to know more about Trapster, ease on past the break.

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8

Video Review: nanoGroove GrooveShark client

GrooveShark, the streaming music on-demand site, is still going strong and while we've had a Windows phone client in the past (see our video review of GrooveFish), it was lacking some finesse and advanced features.

Enter nanoGroove, a full-fledged (though not officially endorsed) GrooveShark client that adds some nice bells and whistles. Although it costs a one-time license of $4.99, we think it's a fair price for a nicely polished application such as this.

Here are some of the features which it's free GrooveFish cousin is lacking

  • Supports multiple resolutions (including 320x320)
  • GrooveShark Playlist support
  • Album art
  • Power button disables screen (keeps music playing, saves battery)
  • Better graphics

We've had no problem running it on our Touch Pro 2 or Treo Pro and of course you can't beat the sound quality of GrooveShark (it kills Pandora in that regard).

If we had any complaints it would be that the UI has a few extra steps than is probably needed (like having to refresh to pull down your playlists) and it is a little confusing to get songs to actually just play (first you search, then you add to the player, then you switch to player, then you  hit play). 

But overall we're very happy with it and have no problem surrendering $5 for it. If you want the time-limited demo, just scan the MS Tag or go to the NanoGroove site.

Check out our video review after the jump to see how it all works!

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9

Review: IM+ All-in-One Mobile Messenger

IM+ All-in-One Mobile Messenger from Shape Services is one of the top IM applications for Windows Mobile Standard and Pro (and increasingly its competition).

It is also hands-down the most expensive option, coming in at a whooping one-time fee of $39.95. At least that $39.95 is a lifetime license with free upgrades and even a transfer to another device-type (except iPhone). Is it worth it? Depends if you are an instant messaging nut -- if so, yeah as its a darn good app.

Curious about what changes have been brought with their 6.x and now 7.x updates? Read on for my full review.

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3

Review: Panoramic FreeCell

Video or computer games typically fall into one of two categories. Either it is extremely addicting and squeezes hours of playing time out of your schedule, or it is the kind of game that can easily be played for just a few spare moments. While both have their pros and cons, the latter is often a better choice for people just looking for something with which to kill a little spare time.

Panoramic software is a developer that is starting to gain some momentum with their software and the recognition that they get from various sources. One of their software packages, moTweets, is a Twitter client that is being mentioned in the same breath as applications such as Twikini. One genre that Panoramic has put extra emphasis on is card games. Panoramic FreeCell was released October 15, 2009. Now in version 1.2.0, FreeCell is a great example of one of the things that I really respect about Panoramic. When one of their products is first released, they are constantly fixing bugs and listening to customer feedback in order to perfect their product.

For the full breakdown of what Panoramic FreeCell offers, hit the jump.

Pros: 
Crisp Graphics. Easy to use. Inexpensive.
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27

Review: Windows Live for Windows Phone

One of the things that have made Google’s Android platform such a strong player in the mobile space is the simple fact that Google has so many popular services. Google’s ability to tightly integrate these services into the Android experience is one of the things that is so appealing. Microsoft may have the numbers, but Google has everything neatly and seamlessly on Android, where Windows Mobile does not.

Think about it. Where Google has Google Search, Gmail and Google Talk; Microsoft has Bing, Hotmail/Live Mail, and Messenger. Though the similarities between the two giants are well documented, the way that they have approached the integration of their services into their mobile platforms couldn’t be more different. While Google makes use of their services bordering on mandatory (you have to have an account to even use an Android device), Microsoft has chosen to take a much more low key approach through Windows Live for Windows Phone.

Windows Live for Windows Phone hasn’t received much face time; but is worth a quick look, which is waiting on the other side of the break.

Pros: 
Provides Push Email without needing Exchange. Supports Messenger chat. Free.
Cons: 
Not enough support for Windows Live services. Bland appearance.
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8

Review: Sid Meier’s Civilization IV

One of the games that has defined cross platform gaming is Sid Meier’s Civilization. I remember back in the late 90s when Linux was starting to get more widespread, many of the Linux flavors shipped with Civilization. Because of this, it was no surprise to me when I saw it listed in the Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

Hit the jump to see what this game is capable of, and if it’s worth the $4.99 that it will cost you.

Pros: 
Intriguing game concept, simple to use controls
Cons: 
Game has a repetitive value
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8

Review: Namco Dig Dug

The only thing better than a moment of nostalgia, is a moment of geeky nostalgia. Classic video games are making a comeback for a number of reasons. Reason number one is that it doesn’t take a lot of hardware to run the games that we used to play 20 years ago. Reason number two is that the games have already been developed; they just need to be adapted and ported to a modern platform. The biggest reason in my opinion is that you don’t have to sell a game like Tetris or Galaga, because your customer is already familiar with the game and in many cases is simply renewing an addiction that has been on pause for the last 15+ years.

Namco is one of those names that is synonymous with classic games. I’ve already looked at Galaga and found it to be a fun game experience, but limited by the controls that are available to you. Another Namco classic, Dig Dug, is available from the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. While Dig Dug isn’t as high paced as Galaga, there are some definite benefits to the way the game is constructed that lend itself to Windows Phones and the hardware that is available.

Hit the jump for more details.

 

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1

Review: SPB Time v3.0

SPB Software recently released an updated version of Time. Time is a one-stop shop for all your time-keeping needs, and the updated version (v3.0) is packed full of analog and digital modes, a world clock, timers, stopwatches and alarms. It may very well be all you'd ever need in a time application.

So what's new with v3.0? Here are the highlights:

  • Online skin catalog
  • Three alarms: Classic, Paranoid, and Bio
  • Improved touch UI
  • Scrollable Calendar
  • Moon Phases
  • Mobile Shell Widgets
  • New alarm sounds

We took SPB Time v3.0 out for a test drive. More after the break.

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2

Review: Namco Galaga

If you think about it, our Windows Phones have more raw computing power than the computer systems that many of us were raised on. It stands to reason that many of the computing classics would be ported to the miniaturized hardware that we tote around every day. We’ve already looked at Tetris Mania by Electronic Arts, but it’s not the only old kid on the new block.

Namco has been in the arcade game business since the beginning. The folks that brought you legendary games such as Pac-Man have begun to bring their classics to the Windows Mobile platform. One such game, Galaga, is the subject of this review. For the uninitiated, Galaga is one of the original fixed- shooter game that were (and still are) very popular in arcades. This style of game lends itself particularly well to a small device like a Windows Phone.

Hit the break for my full review.

 

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6

Review: Tetris Mania

I would be hard pressed to come up with another video game that is more of a classic than Tetris. That statement is partially based on my unabashed addiction to the game that is the standard for puzzle-based games. Various iterations and knockoffs have navigated the Windows Mobile space, with varied success. This review will focus on Tetris Mania, offered by EA Mobile in the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Electronic Arts is one of the major game developers on all platforms, which is good news for Windows Mobile as a platform. Any time you have an industry heavyweight like EA devoting resources to develop software for your product; that is a big boost.

How well does EA accomplish the Tetris experience? Hit the jump for my opinion.

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13

Review: Weatherbug Mobile

Weatherbug has been cranking out weather apps for years ranging from desktop widgets to mobile applications. They have recently released a Windows Mobile Professional version of their weather app, Weatherbug Mobile.

The application puts a good bit of weather information at your fingertips. Features include:

  • Live local weather from over 8,000 tracking stations
  • Severe Weather Alerts in real time
  • Animated local radar
  • Live and time-lapse images from over 1,000 weather cameras
  • International weather information

For our impressions of Weatherbug Mobile follow the break.

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14

Review: Manbolo Meon

A major factor that game developers must consider when working with a platform such as Windows Phones is the interface. The fact that Windows phones come in all shapes and sizes is one of the strengths of the platform, but in this case it can be a challenge. Developers must take into account things like the fact that the device hardware may not include hardware buttons and the screen resolution could be any of a number of configurations. One solution to this problem is to use the old K.I.S.S. design rule; Keep It Simple Stupid. One game that practices this rule to perfection is Meon from Manbolo.

One of the first Games to appear on Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace for Mobile, Meon is a puzzle based game that requires you to use strategy in order to direct light into different areas of the puzzle. A Lite version featuring about 30 levels is available for free, with the full version setting you back $2.99.

This game is highly addicting. If that sounds good to you, click on through. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

Cons: 
Graphics could be better
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37

Review: Copilot Live 8

There are some pretty cool technologies involved in the hardware that is being crammed into our Windows Phones these days. WiFi, various cellular technologies, GPS, et al. My vote for the coolest of these is GPS. The fact that some very intelligent person somewhere came up with the idea of putting machines into orbit around the globe and then using these to navigate is extremely impressive to me.

Harnessing the full power of the GPS on a Windows Phone can be a difficult proposition. Free tools such as Google Maps and Bing/Live Search are capable of utilizing a GPS receiver, but they don’t give you all of the benefits that we have come to expect from a full featured GPS.

Copilot Live is one of the premier GPS applications for Windows Phones. Now in version 8, ALK Solutions has re-worked their pricing to make this amazing software accessible to just about anyone with a Windows Phone. (See my review of Copilot 7 here.)

To see the new features that Copilot Live 8 offers, check out the review after the jump.

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8

Upgrading the Samsung Jack to 6.5

The other day Samsung released the Windows Mobile 6.5 Standard update for the AT&T Jack. We downloaded the update file and with a little effort, updated the Jack to 6.5.

With very few exceptions, had I not performed the upgrade, it would be tough to tell the difference between the old Jack running WM 6.1 and the Jack running WM 6.5.

Ease on past the break for a few screen shots to see if you can tell the difference and our initial thoughts on the Jack's updated OS. 

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Review: PointUI Home 2 Pro

It seems like any weakness in the Windows Mobile platform is an area in which third party developers spend a lot of time trying to create software that will fill in the gaps. This makes sense for business reasons, who wants to buy an application that the platform already does a good job of handling?

One of the most maligned facets of Windows Mobile in the past years is the interface itself. Consequently, multiple developers have been applying their expertise to building a product that consumers will flock to in order to make their powerful devices more user friendly and customizable. HTC’s TouchFLO and SPB’s Mobile Shell are the two major players in this market, with other options available from the likes of Vito Technologies (Winterface), SHBT (MyHome), and PointUI.

The subject of this review, PointUI Home 2, began its development as a free application. As is fairly common a Pro version is now available for $19.95, offering an increased feature set for a premium price.

For the full review of PointUI Home 2 and all that it offers, hit the jump.

 

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Review: Pocket Informant 9

Personal Information Management (PIM) tools are the classic example of why PDAs or Smart Phones are useful. Having hundreds of contacts, meetings, and tasks all stored at your fingertips has been the justification for many of us getting into the handheld market. But over the years, Pocket Outlook has been a little behind the curve in both features and usability compared to some of the competitors on the market. When synchronization with an enterprise Exchange Server is billed as one of the selling points for the Windows Mobile platform, having the interface be somewhat stagnated can be a major issue.

In any conversation about replacement PIM tools for Windows Mobile, Pocket Informant is going to be toward the top of the list. Now in version 9, WebIS has improved overall usability and brought the application more in line with standards that are introduced in Windows Mobile 6.5. The question is, did WebIS do enough to make this update worth the $10 cost? Hit the jump to find out.

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