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In Search of Treo PIM Heaven Part 3: Contacts

Contacts Overview
Considering that other PIM components such as Calendar and Tasks are genuinely 'difficult' to get right one would imagine that all developers could at least get the Contacts portion to work perfectly well. 

Alas this is but wishful thinking as there is not a single one of my reviewed PIM applications (Agendus, Beyond Contacts, KeySuite and DateBk) which does not fail to deliver on one small (but critical) front or another. 

Sure, all of these PIMs have one thing or another that is unique (even exceptional) but if I'm looking to fix something that's not technically 'broken' (the standard Treo Contacts) and pay good money for a new one then I expect the developer to have done all of his or her homework and to deliver a flawless PIM for our Treo.

Contacts (Standard Treo PIM)

- Attaching photo to contact is fully integrated with Treo camera (only one of all PIMs to allow this)
- Typing automatically selects first available matching contact
- Direct dial and SMS (Message) from list view and full integration with Treo Phone application (obvious but still...)
- Simple, clean, (mostly) fast and free...

- Cannot search by company or view list as First/Last name (did I mention that this was pathetic?)
- Cannot view contact list by First, Last Name (?!?!)
- The Details button in Contact Edit is redundant (an unnecessary click).
- Contact data entry begins with counterintuitive Last Name/First Name (the cause of many input errors...)
- Limited to 15 categories.
- Only basic Outlook folder integration (however, PocketMirror Professional XT provides additional folder support)
- Cannot send email to contacts!
- Limited change of font or color display.
- Cannot rapidly move up or down each field in Contact Details view by holding 5Way up/down but instead annoyingly requires repeated 5Way up/down key presses.

Contacts (Beyond Contacts)

- Easily add or remove alphabetic tabs in preferences (which have no practical use on the Treo).
- Clean and simple Contact Details screen split in three sections with General, Details and Note and supports 5Way navigation.
- Largest number of available contact fields of any reviewed PIM

- Does not recognize that completely empty contact should not be added...
- Does not list all available contact numbers as default and requires two painful steps for direct dial (5Way right + 5Way center)
- All contact data appears on one line making the name or company listing too short
- Does not automatically select first available contact using Look Up and thus adds two more clicks to a typical contact search process.

Contacts (KeySuite)

- Typing automatically selects first available matching contact (essential on the Treo)
- Search in First, Last, File As and Company name fields
- Link Contact to: appointment, contact, task, note and new at same company

- No email integration
- Most Recent/Favorites icon (yellow star bottom left) has no obvious practical use
- Users with multiple Outlook folders cannot conduct global searches across all of them nor view all contacts across all folders in one single view.
- No picture attachment for contact

Contacts (Agendus)

- Detailed list includes all main contact numbers and email...
- Send email directly from list view with any of your default email clients
- Send email, SMS, dial number and check contact website from within Contact details view
- 'Group By' view is excellent
- Very fast search
- Great look and feel of list view with full customization of fonts (I particularly like the bold font for name and standard for numbers) + also simple icons
- Provides full 'contact history' matching tasks, calendar, incoming and outgoing calls (very neat)

- [Cannot] CORRECTED Can hide alphabetic tabs but you need to find the option first...  Complete waste of space on Treo...  Also, 'Group By' icon (three point triangle top left) should be repositioned at very top to free space.
- NOT Treo optimized.  Typing does not select first available contact for quick dialing and 5Way support is poor and slow.  Also requests confirmation to dial number adding one more burdensome click.
- Treo camera not supported in contact photo attachment.

Please note that in my case the second 'cons' makes Agendus unuseable for a Treo.  However, because Agendus uses the built-in Contacts database you can always use it just to make calls but then again the developers should simply get this right and avoid us having to go through the hassle.

Contacts Fields Comparison

Contacts 'Heaven'
As before, the perfect Contacts application would adopt all of the pros listed while at the same time addressing all of the cons.

At the very basic there are only three things that any Contacts application for the Treo should do extremely well:

  1. Typing first letters of contact in Search or Look Up will highlight first available matching contact (TR, KS)
  2. One click direct dial, SMS and email
  3. Search in First, Last, File As and Company name fields

Other things include:

  • Contact list view has name/company in bold and number(s)/email in standard font (AG)
  • List includes email address and allows direct creation of new email to selected contact (AG)
  • For Outlook users the PIM should be able to integrate multiple contacts folders
  • Picture attachment integrated with Treo camera
  • Link Contact to: appointment, contact, task, note and new at same company (KS)

Treonauts will work to create the perfect 'Contacts'...

Posted by Andrew on March 20, 2005 at 01:58 PM

Treo Software | PIM

| Permalink


by Peter | Mar 20, 2005 3:17:31 PM


Agendus 9: Can hide alphabetic tabs! Try Options


by Andrew | Mar 20, 2005 4:40:33 PM

Thanks for pointing this out Peter - I finally managed to find the option to do this well hidden within Agendus...

This adds another con though: Agendus using both 'options' and 'preferences'and placing them in completely distinct locations...

I may be too logical but should it not be obvious that _all_ preferences should appear in the same place?

Cheers, A.

by Shimon Shnitzer | Mar 20, 2005 4:56:08 PM


I f I dare suggest my own creation - TAKEphONE comes close to what you require.

For details - go to www.shsh.com/products or email me.
I will be happy to supply license/s for review.

Thanks -

by Andrew | Mar 20, 2005 5:29:52 PM

Thanks Shimon - all of the reviewed applications come 'close' to what I require but as I point out none 'fully' delivers.

I'll be happy to take a look at your applications.

Cheers, A.

by Rich | Mar 21, 2005 10:29:58 AM


I used to use ContactsPro by Mobimate (www.mobimate.com). I'm pretty sure they have the feature set you are looking for - albeit a little inelegant for me.


by Scott | Mar 21, 2005 11:44:13 AM

I liked Contacts5 on my Treo600. 5-way support wasn't the greatest, but for finding a contact and dialing it worked pretty well (one less step then Agendus from what I remember) and to me was the nicest looking contacts app out there.

Unfortunately, it still isn't compatible on the 650 or Tungsten T5, as they claim there's a Palm OS bug (which I believe) prevents it from being able to work on these devices, but seems strange that folks like Agendus and the like don't seem to have the same problem...

by Paul | Mar 21, 2005 12:27:15 PM

Another thing that I think is essential for business users is the ability to have each contact in multiple categories. The native Palm contact application cannot do this, and neither can Agendus, since it uses the native palm database. Beyond Contact and KeyContacts can do this.

If an application uses its own database, it needs to be able to sync it with the palm database to keep up with things like Handmark Express 411 or similar applications which add records directly to the native Palm contacts list.

by Nigel | Mar 21, 2005 12:54:11 PM

I definitely agree with Paul that having the ability to assign multiple categories is essential (and not just for business users - it just makes more sense!).

One thing I'm not sure whether has been mentioned enough, is the importance of accurate syncs with your computer, whether PC or Mac. I personally use iSync, Address Book and Agendus and none of these seem to sync up entirely accurately: often addresses go missing if they're not under the default category, numbers are missed off if there are too many 'other's or they're labelled in a non-standard way. I'm guessing this is because Agendus uses the Palm Contact DB.

Has anyone else had these kind of problems?

by Tony Cooper | Mar 22, 2005 7:49:50 PM

I am currently running Agendus, as it was closest to 100% of what I needed. An additional con however, is that you can't run MMS with the integrated Agendus Mail messaging.

by Knocka | Mar 23, 2005 6:58:25 AM

I was using KS, and like the interface better than the Palm OS. But, the Palm App allows you to type the first initial of the first name, and then the first initial of the last name, to find a contact. (JD would find John Doe). KS does not allow this, at least I cannot figure it out. Searching in this manner makes it much easier to find a contact with the fewest number of letters, and dial it.

KS, on the other hand, allows all of my Categories to by synched and does not truncate the names, which I find annoying.

I just figured out, from your review, why one of my categories was not showing up at all in the Palm App. I have a Category that is entirely a subset of another category (in other words, every single entry in that Category is also a member of a larger Category. At least I figured out the problem. But I have no clue how to solve it.


by eric | Mar 25, 2005 12:06:29 AM

something i *didn't* like about KeySuite's contact mgr - when you finish a call with someone NOT in your contacts list already, the phone prompts you to add them.

but it goes only to the stock contacts - not the KS contacts.


so - for MY list of things a good contact mgr should have, is phone integration (at end of call, prompting to add new user, or add ph number to existing user)

i agree w/ one-button sms/email/etc integration

and 5-way support is critical, also


by TM | Apr 3, 2005 1:12:19 AM

Here's the real question. Why can't the folks at ACT! get their *act* together and release the promised update for ACT! 2005 so you can sync to the 650? I'm using Agendus which works fine for what I do (save the multiple category problem) but to not be able to sync with a program like ACT is silly. COME ON BEST SOFTWARE LIVE UP TO YOUR NAME!

by Kevin Grindle | Apr 15, 2005 12:45:30 AM

I am using ACT 6.0 on my Treo 600 and am looking at upgrading to ACT 2005, has anyone had experience with this? Please advise and thanks.

by Scott Persico | Jun 16, 2005 9:38:27 AM

Hi all,

I have a simple question.

I am currently an ACT! 6.0 user, and really want to buy the Treo 650.

Does ACT! 6.0 link? If I use Act Link in lieu of ACT! for Palm OS?

I have no desire to move to ACT! 2005.

ANy advise??

THanks so much,

Best always,


by KiowaSean | Oct 12, 2005 12:54:22 PM

I'm using the standard Treo contacts software and I've been satisfied for around 6 months. In the last few weeks I've started to find that contacts that I use somewhat frequently have started to dissappear. Any thoughts on how to fix this? I occasionally synch with Outlook but this doesn't seem to be causing the issue. Also, the same contacts don't always dissappear it seems random.

by Loren Gordon | Oct 18, 2005 2:58:45 PM

Hi, I just got a Treo 650 and cannot figure out how to add a number from the call log to an existing contact. Is it even possible and I am simply not clicking in the right place???

It seems like such an intuitive piece of contact management that I can't imagine it not being there. But every time I want to add a new number, it just creates a new contact. I can copy and paste into an existing contact, but that just gets klunky.

Do any of the other contact apps support this feature? Thanks..

by freyes | Aug 2, 2007 10:06:12 PM

Why not put the business name in the last name field, and put the last name (a space) and then the first name in the first name field. I have not tried this, but it seems logical that it should work.

by Manuel | Dec 31, 2007 4:31:37 PM

I have just been trying a few apps to replace the standard phone app on my Treo 680 and found that TAKEphONE has one fantastic feature: you can type ANY part of the contact name you are looking for to find that contact. For example, to find "Dave Collins (Paula's brother)" you could type "aula's bro" and it would bring it up. It also lets you search for parts of strings in several fields. I think this is absolutely brilliant.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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