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September 16th, 1999

Review
Documents To Go, An Excellent Solution For Viewing Documents On Your Palm


DataViz Documents to Go 2.0
Contact and Other Information
Manufacturer: DataViz
Description: Mac/PC to Palm Document Transfer
Address: DataViz, Inc.
55 Corporate Drive
Trumbull, CT 06611 USA
Price: US$39.99
Telephone: 1-800-733-0030
1-203-268-0030
Fax: 1-203-268-4345
Requirements Mac
Power Mac with Mac OS 7.5 or greater
Palm MacPac 2
HotSync Manager 2.1
Palm OS 2.0

PC
Windows 95/98/NT
Palm Desktop 3.0
HotSync Manager 3.0
Palm OS 2.0


System Used For Testing Power Computing Power Center Pro 210
Newer 300 MHz G3 Upgrade
Mac OS 8.6
Palm Desktop 2.1
HotSync Manager 2.1
Documents to Go 2.0 Review
by John F. Braun

Introduction

The Palm is a great solution for those who need to keep their appointments, contact info, to-do lists and notes in a handheld package. With the March 1999 introduction of the Palm MacPac Version 2, Mac users are at least on par, if not beyond, their Windows counterparts when it comes to desktop functionality. But the Palm Desktop software does have limitations. What if you want to store and view documents from desktop applications like Word, ClarisWorks, Excel or even SimpleText on your Palm? Sure, you could get into a marathon cut-and-paste session, but Documents to Go provides a better solution.

Documentation

The package contains a Getting Started guide for both Mac and Windows users. Oddly, installation instructions are on the last page of each version's guide, and the section is not listed in the Contents of the manual. It also instructs one to insert the Documents to Go floppy to start the install, when in fact the product comes on a CD-ROM. Although the installation of nearly all Mac software is a simple matter of inserting the media and clicking on an Installer icon, this really should have been stated at the beginning of the guide.

On the bright side, the guide comes in both print and PDF format, and an installer for the Acrobat Reader is included on the CD. The guide offers tips on moving documents to your Palm, categorizing the documents, and viewing them. There is also an excellent help file using the new Apple Help Viewer system.

Installation

The installation of Documents to Go was very straightforward. The standard Apple installer is used. There are only two options, Easy Install and Uninstall. You can also choose a specific target folder. Once the installation is complete, you'll notice a Documents to Go alias on your Desktop, as well as a folder placed in a location specified. A DocsToGo Conduit is also placed in the Palm Conduits folder.

To complete the installation, you'll need to perform a HotSync operation. This will copy the Documents, SheetView and WordView applications to the Unfiled category of your Palm. These Palm applications weigh in at 32K, 56K and 17K respectively. This shouldn't be a problem, even for those with only 2 MB RAM in their Palm.

Mac Operation

Using Documents to Go couldn't be easier. We tested documents from Word, Excel and SimpleText. Simply drag the document on top of the Documents to Go alias, or in the program window if the application is launched, and it will be converted and compressed.

The size, type of document, synchronization status and other information are shown in the main program window (see the screenshot below). If you double-click on the document's entry, you can get more detailed info, as well as assign it to a category. You can also set the view setting. If you choose the None option, instead of the default Full view, the document will be listed, but not transferred to the Palm. This can be handy if you want to keep track of a document, but are running short on Palm storage space. The size of the compressed file was typically 10 to 20 percent of the original. Your mileage may vary.

The only glitch we ran into was with a SimpleText file that contained a paragraph without any carriage returns at the end. Documents to Go would claim that the file was not of a type that it could convert. After adding a few carriage returns at the end of the paragraph, we were able to convert the file.

Palm Operation

Once the files are transferred, you can view them with the Documents application, which was transferred to your Palm during installation. The Documents application shows a document summary screen with the title and size of each document. If the document has not yet been viewed, the title will be bold. Clicking on the document will view it in the appropriate application, either WordView or SheetView.

Text documents were transferred faithfully, sans images. In their place is text in brackets, such as [--- Pict graphic Goes Here ---], to let you know where an image would have been had you been viewing the document on your computer. Since most images would suffer greatly from attempts to convert it to be viewed on the smaller Palm grayscale screen, this feature is wisely absent. It also helps keep converted document size to a minimum.

Spreadsheet transfer was less satisfactory. Several columns of a transferred spreadsheet resulted in the familiar "###" filling the column because the column is too small. Although a columns that isn't wide enough can be modified with a Fit option, it would be nice if this could be selected as a default.

Clicking on a small info button next to the document, or clicking on the Details button when the document is selected, will bring up a Details screen. Here, you can see the title, category, modification and last viewed date, size and document type. You can also change the title, category and view status (Full or None) of the document. You can also delete the document.

Although the installation process installs 3 applications on the Palm, clicking on any of them brings up the same document summary screen. Although not a big deal, it would be nice if everything could be included in a single application/icon, if for no other reason than to save Palm screen real estate.

Conclusion

Despite some minor problems with documentation and transfer of SimpleText documents, Documents to Go is the best solution we've seen for transferring documents from major productivity applications to your Palm.


Final Score (Maximum score is 5 Gadgies)
4 1/2 Gadgies
Pros Easy Installation
Drag and Drop Operation
Available for Mac and PC
Most "cons" are more than overcome by the products overall usefulness
Cons Installation Documentation Could Be Improved
Minor Glitch with Certain SimpleText Documents
Spreadsheet Columns May Be Too Small
Could Consolidate to Single Palm Icon



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