CalorieKing for Palm OS ReviewBy: Kris Keilhack
January 29, 2007
With the ever-widening waistlines and bottoms of the American populace, dieting and exercise are popular New Year’s resolutions. While yours truly is not yet in mortal danger, I had a more sedentary than usual 2006 due to a variety of factors (mostly family and work related). I made a vow to inaugurate 2007 by monitoring my caloric intake and eating more healthily while slowly transitioning into more regular exercise. Enter the CalorieKing software for Palm OS.
CalorieKing for Palm OS is just one tool amongst an impressive lineup of nutritional, exercise, diabetic, and food-related books, software programs and even pedometers offered by the Calorie King division of the Family Health Network.
CalorieKing is a weight los company founded by Allan Borushek, a dietitian, health educator, and author with over thirty years experience in the field. Borushek is best known for his best-selling book, The Calorie King Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter. The book is featured regularly amongst the best-seller lists of both USA Today and Amazon.com. With over ten million books sold over the years, Allen Borushek is widely acknowledged as the "Calorie King", thus the name for his company.
CalorieKing now has a line of diet and exercise management software for Mac and Windows in addition to the Palm OS and Pocket PC mobile platforms. The CalorieKing Nutrition and Diet Manager is their most popular software app and their Palm OS version is the focus of my review here.
CalorieKing Nutrition and Diet Manager’s frequently updated food database contains over 50,000 foods and beverages. Fully integrated with the database is an easy-to-use diary for recording your daily food intake and exercise regimen as well as a powerful personal profile, which calculates an individual's recommended “calorie budget” (their term, not mine!), tuned for healthy, sustainable weight control.
Testing Methodology and Initial Results
CalorieKing requires a Palm OS device running OS 3.5 or newer with at least 8mb of free memory. The CalorieKing website lists 4.2.1 as the newest version of the app but my download of the executable installer actually loaded version 4.2.2 to my Treo.
I installed the program to my SD card in my 700p, thinking the huge food item database was going to be much, much larger. The entire app occupies only 361kb of space. The handy CKTools app is just an additional 55k and is well worth installing.
I actually installed the program on my Treo several months ago in 2006. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors related to work and personal life, I was unable to make a concerted effort to diet or evaluate the app at the time. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to give the program the proper attention it deserved, I conveniently waited until all of the spoils of the holidays had been consumed. Then, on January 1st, I commenced my actual testing & dieting period. I also purged my pantry of unhealthy snacks and rejoined the local gym a few days later. Things were already looking up—until I got the eye-opening experience of adding up the snacks and treats one imbibes during the course of a dreary winter workday!
As of January 24th, while I have managed to lose only three to four pounds, I am much more in tune with my eating habits—particularly, just HOW unhealthy certain restaurant meals can be! As a perfect example of a lesson learned as I entered my second week with the program, CalorieKing made me aware of the folly of having a healthy workday lunch (plenty of fresh greens, some grilled chicken or seafood and no carb-heavy starches) that was foolishly followed by a mid-afternoon Grande Starbucks Peppermint Mocha!
I’m impressed by the depth and capabilities of the CalorieKing software. It’s definitely capable of making a huge difference in one’s lifestyle. Even before the pounds start falling off from reduced intake and greater levels of exercise, a few days of diligently logging all of the snacks and sodas are certain to raise an eyebrows when the calories, carbs, and grams of fat are all accounted for! That said, I am inclined to recommend CalorieKing for its inherent health-related benefits and the data it presents rather than its technical merits as a cutting-edge piece of software.
While the CalorieKing software has definitely benefited from the tireless efforts of the company’s health educators and nutritionists, it has some definite shortcomings and limitations when used side-by-side with modern Palm OS application.
Graphically, the program’s “About” screen clearly shows its age with a dithered, 8-bit color backdrop and a copyright date of 2002. In addition, the iconic aspects of the UI are quite crude and sometimes ambiguous in meaning. Sometimes I’d have to spend several minutes flipping through dialog boxes, drop down menus, and tabbed icons before finding the screen I was searching for.
I’d love to a see an overhauled version 5.0 of the program designed around the ubiquitous wireless capabilities of nearly all modern Palm OS devices. In addition, the food database could be greatly expanded and the included tools enhanced to take advantage of the near-infinite storage capacities afforded by SD card capacities. I’d personally like to see some kind of included exercise coach, with actual pictorial guides to stretching and various types of activities. Native wireless integration would also be a fantastic addition, as would 5-way navigation support.
Nonetheless, CalorieKing is going to be my constant companion through 2007 as I slowly but surely make inroads on keeping my caloric intake under control and continue monitoring my activity levels in the program’s diary—always an important thing for a desk jockey like myself!
The fine folks at Calorie King are promising an updated version of the program sometime this year. I’ll be eagerly awaiting its release as this very deserving app is really in need of, ahem, a new set of shorts and running shoes to improve its overall appearance.
- Massive database of all manner of foodstuffs, including restaurant and fast food products
- Sodas, coffees, novelty beverages, and energy drinks included in the beverage database
- Thorough documentation and numerous tools available at carlorieking.com
- Handy built-in exercise and diet logs, including BMI calculator and personal profiles.
- Not just a weight loss tool! CK is also helpful for individuals who just want to maintain their current weight or even gain weight
- Moderate system requirements ensure compatibility on a wide range of Palm OS devices
- Very primitive UI and unintuitive navigation throughout the app
- Certain brands and types of food not found in internal database. Some listings in CK’s internal database are likely out of date and do not correspond with what is published on websites or nutritional guides of some restaurants.
- Program lacks 5-way navigator support in all areas other than the dialog boxes.
- No native wireless or online support. Instead of an inconvenient Hostync conduit, an integrated wireless auto-updater for would make for a fantastic addition to the program, especially for owners of wi-fi Palm devices or Treos
- No 320x480 support
CalorieKing is available now from the publisher’s website for $29.95. An upgrade version for owners of version 3 is available for $4.95. A free trial is available and CalorKing offers a nifty free health tool bundle for download on their website.
My Rating: 3 / 5