As we mentioned here, the TamsPalm team is going to be taking on the task of reviewing most of the popular launchers available. This is Part I, where we take a test drive with Propel.
Propel by Iambic, is an alternate launcher for Applications, Memos, Documents, Files and Contacts on your handheld device. After you download and run the installer, you can choose wether to use Standard or Professional version. (This review focuses on the Professional Version).
Clicking the “Yes, let’s go!” button will launch Propel, where it will refresh your data. Unfortunately my device crashed during this process. Upon reboot, Propel says it has crashed, and the problem was with my Memos database, and to check it to make sure there are no problems.
I checked my Memos, and everything seemed to be fine. I even deleted many of the Memos I really didn’t need, hoping that I might delete the one(s) that caused the problem, but that did not fix anything. This was very frustrating, not being able to even get Propel to launch, but we did like that it at least specified where the problem was, instead of just crashing without any error logging (although, we wished it wouldn’t of crashed at all!).
Finally I was able to have a crash-less refresh, so I was able to actually use Propel (I changed the Application that handles Memos from Memo Pad to PsMemo, and that seemed to solve the problem, but I have no idea why)
Launching Applications was a little harder than I would’ve liked, as Propel uses a nonstandard scroll bar, but maybe it was something I just need to get used to. The real killer feature for Treo users is the ability to launch applications by pressing the letter of the app you want to launch. Propel will then show you a list of apps that start with that letter, where you can either navigate to what you want to open with the five-way, or further specify your search by typing in more letters.
Although technically you can also do this by using the on-screen keyboard with your 320×480 Palm PDA, it certainly is not as easy because the keyboard is not always on-screen.
Propel has a bunch of different views that can be used to launch anything from Music to Memos to Contacts, and this worked well.
(Blacked out by me)
Propel has many different options, and this seems sort of overwhelming when you first start using it.
One option that doesn’t seem to be available, is adjusting the font size on a area by area basis, i.e. I personally like the font for the Applications quite small, but everything else larger. When I set the font small, it makes the top tabs really small and hard to press.
Another thing we disliked, was the way to select Application tabs. If you have more categories than one screen width can “fit”, then the only way to get to these other categories is to press the little arrow buttons to the left or right side of the tabs.
The problem is that the arrows change the categories one by one, so I had to press that button about six times to get to my last category. Maybe instead of this, there can be a drop down menu or have the tab area support icons so you don’t overflow one screen, but whatever it is, this needs a little work. Propel also has a nifty little feature called Favorites that allows you to specify Favorites for stuff you access often. For example, you can select some Applications as Favorites and also some Memos, and when you select Favorite Mode everything else will be filtered out, except what you have preselected.
- Ability to not only launch Applications, but most types of other data too.
- Favorites feature
- Type to search (esp. for Smartphone users)
- Hard-to-use tabbed interface
- Font Size only adjustable on a whole view basis
- Statusbar cannot be taken off-screen in Propel (I know some people like to do this)
- No double column list view to maximize space
The idea and attempted functionality of Propel is great, make it a “one stop shop” for most of your data on your device, if you will, but the implementation is a little weak. This software attempts to do a lot of things, and some things it does well (like the Favorites), but it really needs a serious overhaul to do them all right. If you’d like to try out Propel, and see if it fits your needs, a free trial can be downloaded here. Unfortunately a TamsPalm Shop discount was not possible for this review, as we normally do, but Propel Professional Edition can still be purchased at full retail price here.