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PrintBoy Deluxe 2.0
By Ed Hardy (email@example.com)
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
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.
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.
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 works with any third party Address Book enhancement that uses the standard Palm Address database. This includes Action Names and Address Pro.
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 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.
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'.
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.
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.
If you don't want print with IR, iGo offers a cable that will let you do the same thing. It costs $70.
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.
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