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axxPac
by AMS

Contact Info:
axxpac@ams-fl.com
URL: www.ams-fl.com

PalmInfoCenter.com Bottom Line:

The Price:
$79.00 US excluding VAT

The Pros:
  • Doesn't change the dimensions of the unit
  • Very easy to install and set up
  • Fast and Works! No problems with the software whatsoever
  • Cheap!

The Cons:
  • Driver software still "beta"; could use some GUI enhancements
  • Can't run applications directly from SmartMedia at the present time
  • I can't buy it today!! ;-)

PalmInfoCenter.com Ratings*:
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*Maximum Rating is FIVE (5) InfoPalms



Palm Infocenter.com Pick!
axxPac Review -Part 2
By Robert Zach
Part 1 Part 2

Simply HotSync the driver software, axxPac.prc (36K),  included on the diskette and execute.

When the program starts up, it builds a directory of all applications installed on the Palm.  The screen you are then presented with looks similar to the one below:

     


The main control of this application is by selecting an action item in the lower right hand corner of the screen (copy/move/delete) and then tapping an application in the listing.

The "Palm/Card" boxes in the lower left hand corner allow you to change the directory listing between the two.

The upper right hand corner will indicate the free memory (K) on the inserted SmartMedia card, if one is present. This is absent if no card is in the slot. In fact, selecting the "Card" box with no card present in the slot will issue a dialog box "No Card Inserted"

In the pull down menu of this application there is an about dialog and options to create directories on the Card, Format the Card, get additional info on the card, and set preferences.

     


For advanced usage, the preferences include three check boxes for: confirm overwrite, confirm delete, and show databases in ROM.

The initial screen displays all your applications very nicely categorized (presumably by creator ID). This was a very striking feature, and one I would love to see other similar memory management tools adopt. Folders, ala Windows Explorer, are created for specific applications and database classes such as hacks, and docs, as well as system, and built-in programs.

This allows you to not miss pieces of an application when you move it (such as the PRC, data PDB, or maybe even a preferences PBD). It also allows you to quickly "filter" out things like system files that you can't move, or things like hacks that you may not want to move. Again, a superb feature!

Furthermore, this listing indicates the number of files in the folder or in the case of a file, the size and date. It would have also been nice to see version numbers.

To use the application you select a function (copy/move/delete), and then tap on a file. This is a nice single tap approach but it does have some limitations. First, this means you can only work with a single file at a time. The nice categories would be even better with a double tap approach.

Here's what I mean. If you first selected items you wanted to work with you could do things like select multiple items, in the case of folders you could select a whole "application" or category by simply selecting the folder. Then select your function (copy/move/delete). The categories are an awesome idea, and this would really enhance their effectiveness in my opinion. a double tap could then be used to traverse the folders and sub-folders.

For how the application does work, it's excellent. This software, although a pre-release 0.6.4 version number, is VERY fast and has never crashed or failed on me in the month I have been using it. It is amazing how fast databases can be moved back and forth from Card to Palm and vice versa.

The one minor drawback here is that applications MUST reside on the Palm to be executed.  I am told that an API is in the works, and that some work is being done to allow applications to run from the card.  I would assume that this would require some additional software to hook the OS though.

     

As you can see from the screenshots above, folders can be created on the Card. I have a USB SmartMedia adapter and have been using an 8MB card ($17) for testing. On my Windows 98SE laptop I was able to create long file name folders (folders can be created on the Palm too, but not moved around - I'm just fine with reserving that feature to my PC) on the card. Folders and files can also be moved, deleted, and the card formatted - the axxPac, with this card inserted, was able to read and recognize all of it! Very nice. I guess it is somehow FAT compliant. It would be nice if somehow there was an indication as to what folder I am in when I move between the Card and the Palm.

In short, this is an extraordinary device at a very reasonable cost. With the addition of running apps from the card, this would be the IIIx killer product.

As the software is pre-release I'd also like to suggest the following to AMS: If the single tap selection then choose command option model was used, this would also allow the use of the Palm standard feature scroll to graffiti stroke letter. I miss the ability to select an item in the list by the first letter. I have TONS of apps on the unit, I consider myself a "power user" and I think the axxPac might be considered a "power user" item anyway. It would also be nice to see category support for the ever-growing DA type of application. Finally, when items are being overwritten, it would be nice to see version information in the confirmation dialog box. I'd hate to overwrite something with an older version number by accident. Lastly, as you can see in some of the screenshots, a little icon is used in the application listing. It would be cool to use the small icon from PalmOS 3.3, be recognizing that this may increase the database list creation time, maybe just have an icon for PRC vs. PDB at the very least.

All in all I love this product. Most of my comments in-line above are really just suggestions. The axxPac works as advertised, and it works very well.

Congratulations AMS, the axxPac is a PalmInfocenter.com PICK!



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