Tanker Bob's Essential Palm OS Software List
As of 11/1/04

I've been asked more than a few times for a list of Palm OS software that I considered essential. That question is highly dependent on one's requirements and how one uses a PDA. However, there are some assumptions one can make. Personal Information Management sits at the core of PDA functionality, so I'll assume that we all have that requirement in common. Input comes high on the list because everyone has to enter data. Some choices obviously depend on how I uniquely use my T3.

This list turned out longer than I intended, but all these apps bubbled to the top when I carefully considered the programs that I use on my PDA every single day. After serious thought, I believe that they are in priority order, though the order gets softer towards the end of the list. Again, any such list is highly subjective.

1) Datebk5 by Pimlico Software - One of the very first apps that I bought for my Palm V, I literally use Datebk5 to organize my busy life. Its flexibility permits me to set it up exactly how I need to organize and view by schedule and tasks. Its power enables me to create saved views and quick event lists and summaries for fast reference. Not just a calendar manager, Datebk5 also operates as a Memos (including 32K memos) and ToDo replacement. The simplicity of its interface makes it all look easy. The latest version as of this writing reads/writes to the new TE/T3/T5 PalmOne Calendar and Memo databases for increased speed on these devices. Comes with small executables that enable the user to load custom saved views from hard buttons. Developer support sets the standard for the industry. Owns hard buttons #1 for Calendar and #4 for Memos (using a saved memo view). If I could add only one application to my stock Palm, this would be it.

2) MessagEase4T3 by Exideas - The best input method for Palm OS in my opinion. I achieve the best speed and accuracy with ME, and the macros and text manipulation commands make editing a breeze. Exideas makes a free soft keyboard replacement and a stand-alone input application as well. Comes with great support.

3) BibleReader+ by Olive Tree Bible Software - I had two goals when first entering the Palm OS world. First was organizing my schedule. I also wanted to have God's Word available with me everywhere. The latter provided my primary motivation for upgrading from a 2 MB Palm V to an 8 MB Palm Vx after just a few months. I have a number of Bible programs on my T3, but BibleReader+ has risen to my #1 position with its powerful and outstanding 3-window display and plethora of meaty study references. The Complete Word Study Bible, GRAMCORD Lite Greek New Testament, parsed Hebrew Masoretic Text Old Testament, and parsed Greek Septuagint with high resolution original language fonts stand at the top of their class.

4) NeatFreak Pack by Northglide - This includes Uninstall Manager and Cleanup. Uninstall manager monitors every application installed through HotSync and records its parts, even the "sneaky" ones, so that apps may be completely removed when so desired. Cleanup has an after-the-fact use to purge your PDA of unused and unneeded files and preference settings. I credit this combination with the fact that I've never done a complete install from scratch since my Palm V initial install of software. The best technique is to install Uninstall Manager before any other app if you are starting from scratch.

5) BackupBuddyVFS Pro and BackupBuddy 2 for Windows by Blue Nomad - Great backup utilities that have saved my bacon more times than I can count. BBFVS does full or selective backups and restores, compresses the backup on OS 5 devices (over 30% in my case), can encrypt, and can maintain multiple backups on a card. BackupBuddy 2 effortlessly saves snapshots of your PDA's entire RAM to your Windows PC so that you can completely restore your Palm is the worst happens. As I say in my review on PDABuyersGuide, if you don't have a good backup solution, someday you may wish that you had in the worse way. This total solution package continues to serve me well after many years.

6) ZLauncher by ZZTechs - By far the most powerful, flexible, configurable replacement for the built-in launcher. You can make ZL look like anything you want with/without tabs, backgrounds which can be different for each tab, themes, and icon sets. The built-in file manager, Power-Run-like capability, McPhling-like capability, image viewing, and plug-in support set it miles out in front of the competition.

7) HandStory by Namo - HandStory automatically downloads the news, Dilbert, and Garfield every morning for me to sync to my T3 before I leave for work. I also use it to clip web pages for reading or use later. It's easy to use and gets the job done with minimum effort and fuss, and awaits my beck and call with a simple right click.

8) SplashID by SplashData - Security is high on my list of requirements. I like to keep my financial data and myriad of passwords handy, and encryption keeps them safe. Easy to use and comes with a large number of templates for different data types, plus icon support for quick identification of your key entries.

9) SuperNames2 by StandAlone - Flexibility in configuration, ease of entry, and power in searching set SuperNames2 apart from its competition. The checkbox feature enables action on multiple entries, every field can be searched or search can be limited to particular fields, and it supports linking. Occupies hard button #2.

10) TealLock by TealPoint - The rest of the security equation. Highly configurable and easy to use software to lock your PDA. Locking and activation can be scheduled, and you can select databases to be encrypted on locking. I keep my T3 in my pocket almost all the time, but in case the worse happens I want to ensure that my data remains safe.

11) Documents to Go Premium by Dataviz - We live in a crowded society where waiting in lines (or standing on queue in England) has become a regular part of our life. Ever adaptable, I use many of these times to write my PDABuyersGuide reviews, or do meeting agendas or minutes, or write a host of other things. I've tested and reviewed many office suites, but DTG has won out on my T3. I use the excellent table, hyperlink, image, and bullet/indent support in Word to Go in every review. While its font support isn't as robust as other suites, I find it adequate for my requirements. I mainly use the rest of the suite to exchange data with others in the office who all use the built-in DTG that come with our standard Palm TE PDAs.

12) iSilo by DC & Co. - The other primary use for my T3 is to carry extensive reference material with me. I can literally put a complete Sunday school class together just using my T3. While HandStory does a good job with small and shallow websites, it doesn't handle very large sites or filter exactly what links are captured off a given page. iSilo does this and much more. Documents come through with hyperlinking throughout, images preserved, and formatting intact. My crowning achievement is converting the entirety of Calvin's Commentaries, all 25MB, with hyperlinking not just to the individual books and chapters but also to the embedded footnotes. Nothing renders full websites perfectly on a PDA screen, but iSilo comes closest.

13) SharkSwipe by Ludus Tech - Brand new for Palm T3, T5, and Sony TH55 only! The T3, T5, and TH55 can collapse their graffiti input areas to achieve a full 320x480 pixel display. All have a status bar that is virtually always present, even on the T3 when the slider is closed. SharkSwipe uses the status bar area like older apps use the graffiti area to launch apps or built-in functions by assigning stylus swipes to apps/functions. This provides a boon of capability, especially for T3 users because you don't have to open the slider now to do most functions. Ingenious.