MobileInfocenter
Contact Info:
Bachmann Software & Services
URL: www.bachmannsoftware.com

PalmInfoCenter.com Bottom Line:

The Price:
  • PrintBoy Deluxe 2.0: $35
  • PrintBoy Office: $25
  • PrintBoy Spreadsheets: Quicksheet Edition: $20
  • PrintBoy Documents 2.0: $15
  • PrintBoy 2.2: $15
The Pros:
  • Fills in a major hole in the Palm OS
  • Great looking print outs
  • Print almost everything

The Cons:
  • A few bugs remain in Doc and Spreadsheet applets

PalmInfoCenter.com Ratings*:
Design:
Cost/benefit:
Coolness:
Overall:

*Maximum Rating is FIVE (5) InfoPalms



PrintBoy Deluxe 2.0
By Ed Hardy (ed@palminfocenter.com)
3/22/2001


I've always believed that the single biggest missing feature in the Palm OS is the ability to print. Fortunately, Bachmann Software & Services has stepped in to fill this gap with their PrintBoy line of printing applications. The crown jewel of the PrintBoy line is PrintBoy Deluxe, that allows you to print just about everything on your Palm device.

PrintBoy Deluxe is actually a group of small applications, each one devoted to printing for another application, like the Date Book or even WordSmith. There are printing applets for all of the built-in Palm apps and the scrapbook. Also included are applets to print DOC files and hand-written notes.

As my Dad loves to say, 'If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well." Bachmann clearly believes this too because PrintBoy doesn't just print a bunch of unformatted text; each print out looks as good as if you had printed it from the Palm Desktop application.

PrintBoy Shell Application
Because PrintBoy Deluxe is a group of small applets, Bachmann has provided a central application that can launch each of the smaller ones. It is simple enough to use, being just a text box with the applets listed in it. Clicking on its names launches the applet.

This is also where you choose your printer driver. They have ones for H-P, Canon, Epson, Ricoh, O'Neil, PocketJet, and a generic one that you can configure for your printer if it isn't one of these. I picked the one for my DeskJet 600Cse and was printing in a few seconds.

This seems like a good time to point out that I'm using a slightly old printer that wasn't all that good to begin with. I'm also connecting to it with an infrared adapter, something it wasn't really designed for. This may be a reason for the occasional printing problems I experienced while using PrintBoy Deluxe.

PrintBoy/Documents
One of the newest PrintBoy applets is also one of the best, PrintBoy/Documents. This allows you to print files in Palm Doc format, which is the standard format that Palm documents are saved in. There are probably dozens of Doc readers and editors on the market, including Quickword, WordSmith and plenty more.

My Palm IIIx is a laptop replacement for me. I surf the Web, send and receive e-mail, and even write many of the reviews and articles I post onto this site on it. Until now, I have been hampered by the fact that I couldn't directly print much of what I had written. Yes, I could move the file onto my PC and print it from there but that is a kludgy solution. With PrintBoy/Documents, I can just aim the infrared port on my Palm towards the printer and voilà!, print a copy. Heck, I don't even have to be particularly close to the printer.

Using the latest generation of Palm word processors that support text formatting has made this even better. PrintBoy/Documents supports printing of files that have been formatted with Wordsmith 1.0. Currently, this support is a bit rudimentary. I can print a Wordsmith document with my DeskJet but none of the bold, italics, or underlines I have used shows up on the print out. Also, Blue Nomad has just released Wordsmith 1.1 and PrintBoy/Documents can't print documents in its format. Bachmann is working on a new version that should be out in April with RTF support so it will no longer have problems with WordSmith and will be free for current owners of PrintBoy/Documents.

I took a large document that I had converted from Microsoft Word into Wordsmith 1.0 format and printed it. The results were mostly satisfactory, with a few exceptions. For some reason it cut a line off one of the pages and broke one of the pages up into two half pages. And as I mentioned, none of the words I had put into bold, italics, or underline came out that way on the print-out though they were formatted in WordSmith. Still, I'm not faulting them too hard. Sometimes its not so amazing how well the bear dances but that the bear dances at all.

If you are a Quickword user, there is support for PrintBoy built right in. I hope more applications do this soon. Of course, Quickword doesn't have text formatting yet, but it will.

You have the option of adding a header to the first page with the name of the file in it in about 24 point type. There is also an option to print page numbers.

PrintBoy/Spreadsheets
One of my best friends used his Visor primarily as a mobile speadsheet. He has a bunch of pre-created speadsheets that he uses to figure out what complicated manufacturing jobs are going to cost. He would love the ability to print these out quickly and easily. That's where PrintBoy/Spreadsheets comes in with its ability to print files created by Quicksheet.

This applet is nicely full-featured. When you launch it, you are shown a list of all the Quickword workbooks on your Palm. After you pick one, you get to choose which sheets from that workbook you would like to print. You can print the gridlines or not and print in landscape mode.

It worked pretty well for me but there were a few problems. Like the print-out from WordSmith, none of my bold, italics, or underlines came out. Also, when I printed with the gridlines on it didn't work at all. I got neither the gridlines nor the contents of most of the cells. I'm assuming this is something that happens to just me because of my weird printer setup. I'm sure someone down at Bachmann would have noticed this before the product was released if it were common. I had a chance to talk to someone else who was able to use PrintBoy Spreadsheet with an H-P laser printer and he had none of the problems I did.

PrintBoy/Address
You are given a list of all your Address Book entries broken into your categories and a button labeled 'Print". Just select one and hit the button. You'll get a print-out with the entry name in about 24 point type in a shaded bar across the top, and below that all the fields that have content. If there is a note attached to the entry, that is printed as well.

PrintBoy works with any third party Address Book enhancement that uses the standard Palm Address database. This includes Action Names and Address Pro.

PrintBoy/Date Book
This applet will let you print a single day's events, a week's, a month's, or even a specified range of dates. The print-outs are nicely formatted. For example, the weekly page has the ubiquitous grey bar across the top with 'Date Book' and the range of days printed in it in large type. Underneath that are each day's events nicely arranged in two columns on a single page, and each day has its own smaller grey bar to highlight the date.

You are given a screen with buttons labeled 'Date", 'Week', 'Month', and 'Range'. Push one of them then choose what dates to be printed. This process is a familiar one. It works just like choosing a date in almost any Palm app. You are shown a small calendar and you click on the day or range of days.

If your printer driver supports enhanced graphics, PrintBoy will print a graphical “Month at a glance” calendar. If not, your appointments will be printed as a range of days. Supported printers include the HP LaserJet and DeskJet and compatibles and a couple of more. My DeskJet printed this out and it is a handy thing to post on the wall of my cube for a quick reference.

Again, this works with any third party Date Book enhancement that uses the standard Palm Datebook database. This includes DateBk4.

To air a minor complaint, the name of the applet that shows up in the shell app is "Appointments" but I'm used to looking for "Address Book". Not a big deal but I wish I knew the reason for the difference. All the other applets are called pretty much the name of the application they print for.

PrintBoy/To Do
You are given a list of all your To-Do entries broken into your categories and a button labeled 'Print". Just select one and hit the button. Naturally, if you select "All", all of them will be printed.

PrintBoy automatically sorts your printout by priority and due date, and even includes a handy “check box” in the left hand column so you can check off tasks as they are completed. If a To-Do has an associated Note, it is printed, too.

PrintBoy/Memo
If you don't want to fool around with Doc files and all your text is in the Memo Pad, you can print these, too. Choosing a memo to print is just as simple as it is to choose To-Dos or any of the other applets.

PrintBoy/Mail
This applet allows you to print out e-mails in Palm's built-in Mail application. It works the same as all the other applets. You see a list the e-mails you have in your Inbox, Outbox, etc., choose the one you want, than hit the "Print" button.

If you have given up Palm's Mail app as too limited and moved on to MultiMail, PrintBoy can help you here, too. MultiMail allows you to print directly using the Bachmann print drivers. You don't have to fool around with an applet, just open an e-mail then go under the Edit Menu and choose 'Print'.

PrintBoy/Clipboard
Bachmann has covered all the bases. If you have text in an app that you would like to print but there isn't an applet for it, as long as you can copy the text to the clipboard you can print it with PrintBoy/Clipboard.

Of course, when doing this you run into the 150 character limit on the clipboard. But I use a hack called ClipHack 1.1 that removes this limitation and PrintBoy/Clipboard appears to support it! I copied a long e-mail from MultiMail into the clipboard then printed it. It just about made my day. I just wish WordSmith and ClipHack got along better.

I also wish this worked with AvantGo. The fact that my favorite browser doesn't support any way for exporting the text from its channels is a source of irritation for me.

PrintBoy/Scribble
A fun little applet for scrawling notes on the screen then printing them is included, too. PrintBoy/Scribble lets you draw a message directly on the screen. This is frequently faster than Graffiti and has the added bonus of printability. There is no way to save one and create another, though your message will remain if you leave the applet and come back later.

But don't think for a second this is anything like a little image editing app. There is only one line weight and the only way to erase is to delete the entire note. Frankly, I don't see a lot of use for this, unless you just happen to be somewhere with a Palm, a printer, and no pencil or pen. Just scrawling on a Post-It would be a lot easier.

PrintBoy/Note
Another mostly useless applet is PrintBoy/Note, which lets you create a note like one in the Memo Pad and then print it. You can only create one note; the only way to start a new one is to erase the old. Considering PrintBoy already has the ability to print Memo Pad memos, I don't see much use for this.

Hardware
Naturally, there can be no printing without a printer. The default way for PrintBoy to work is to use the Palm's infrared port to connect to a printer with an IR port of its own. If you look, you'll find that most laser printers in offices have an IR port that almost never gets used. If you don't have access to one of these, Bachmann has a solution for you, too. They offer a bundle of PrintBoy 2.2 and an ACT-IR100M, a handy gadget you can hook up to the parallel port on your printer that gives you an infrared port. This costs $100. I needed one of these to use my DeskJet 600Cse and it worked fine. It runs off an 8 volt battery.

If you don't want print with IR, iGo offers a cable that will let you do the same thing. It costs $70.

Other Bundles
PrintBoy Deluxe is a bundle of all of Bachmann's printing applets. If you think this is overkill, you can buy smaller sets of them for less money. PrintBoy Office is the Doc and spreadsheet applets for just $25. You can buy them separately but I don't think that's terribly cost effective. Or if you just want to print from the built-in apps, you can get PrintBoy 2.2 for just $15.

Conclusion
Bachmann set itself a monumental task with PrintBoy Deluxe and I think they accomplished it pretty well. Yes, there are some bugs in the newer applets, PrintBoy/Documents and PrintBoy Spreadsheet, but I can forgive those as typical first version hiccups. The fact that they are trying to hit a moving target by printing the output from another company's rapidly evolving app makes me a bit more forgiving, too.

The applets that print for the built-in apps have had a chance to evolve and grow and are solid and bug free. I'm certain the newer ones will soon live up to their legacy.

Don't feel the need to wait to buy until that happens. Bachmann offers free upgrades for minor revisions of the applets, what are generally called "dot revs". If they add a major new applet you will have to pay to upgrade.

I think it will be a while before you want to write a formal report on your Palm, print it with PrintBoy, and then hand it to your boss or teacher, but that day is coming.

As I said before, I wish Palm had built this ability into the OS. Having to use one application to print another's isn't very logical. When I'm in WordSmith, I want to be able to just print the document, not launch another app and print from there. That having been said, I'm really grateful to Bachmann for filling in.

Article Comments

 (8 comments)

The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Comments Closed Comments Closed
This article is no longer accepting new comments.

Down

More support

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/22/2001 5:35:42 PM #
I use Hi-Note extensively (in fact I never use Memo Pad), and would like to see support for printing both text and graphics notes from this application.

This would be especially useful since I now how to first export to Memo Pad and then hotsync to print a text note, and I have no ability to print the graphic notes.

RE: More support
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/23/2001 10:55:07 PM #

I also use Hi-Note exclusively, and print from memo pad. I basically export my notes to the memo pad, and then print them from there. It is easy and quick, the whole process takes me about 30 seconds, and is no hassle at all - the only thing I do is clean out the extra copies from me memo pad, about once a month. Definitely not worth putting off buying a printing application. Furthermore, the makers of Hi-Note seem pretty stagnant in updating their software (I have heard they don't wish to change/improve it at all) so you may not see this ever realized.
-Mike Ross

MultiMail Support

Will Lau @ 3/23/2001 10:29:36 AM #
MultiMail actually BUNDLES IN Bachmann Print Drivers for free. So yes it is supported. http://www.actualsoft.com/prod_mmpro_details.htm
RE: MultiMail Support
Ed @ 3/23/2001 10:35:57 AM #
You are absolutely correct and I apologize for missing that. There is an option in the MultiMail preferences to allow users to switch between Bachmann's print driver and the one for PalmPrint. Mine was set to PalmPrint and I didn't realize I could change it.

I'm going to go back into the article and correct this.

Thanks for keep me on the straight and narrow!

---
Plenipotentiary
Palm Infocenter

printboy/wordsmith 1.1

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/23/2001 11:44:01 AM #
I had an early version of wordsmith 1.0 , i dropped the trial version and have reloaded 1.1 and you can print from a WS doc by using the drop down box and print with print boy.
I am looking forward to PB update to support rtf files , that will be great. Another reason why i think WS is better than QW isthe many updates and speed of such. QW said they would have rtf in 2-3 months.

I have use the jet eye from extended systems and it also works great. I wish i knew about the one with the battery though, the ac cord can be a hassle.

RE: printboy/wordsmith 1.1
fireman54 @ 4/19/2001 1:34:35 PM #
What printer are you using with the JetEye and which PB driver did you use. I have an Epson Printer with an Extended Systems IrDA printer adapter and i am unable to get any formatted text when I print. So, I will have to assume that you have an HP printer.

TROUBLE

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/18/2001 6:40:14 AM #
I HAVE JUST DOWNLOADED PRINT BOY.

WHEN I TRY TO PRINT, MY PALM SAYS THAT IT IS CONNECTING, THEN AFTER ALMOST 1 MINUTE WATING, I GAT AN ERROR SAYING THAT CANT OPEN PRINT MANAGER, AND FOR ME TO CHECK THAT THE CONNECTION IS RIGHT. I HAVE CHECKED THIS BUT STILL NOT WORKING.

IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE THAT HELP ME?

SIGNED: PRINTLESS

RE: TROUBLE
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/10/2002 8:23:13 AM #
I had the same problem. Error 15 means that you have not set your config correctly. Don't use hardware use NONE.
Top

Account

Register Register | Login Log in
user:
pass: