Pocket Watch Software’s ActivePrint v3.16

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WHAT’S HOT

    ActivePrint gives you the freedom to
queue your documents to print while away from the office or home.  As many as 60 different document types are supported by ActivePrint;
they are
all printed out with an ActiveSync connection via cable, Wireless, or
Bluetooth on any printer you choose. 

SETUP

   
Four steps will need to be completed on your desktop computer before
the setup is finished.  The install is initiated with a click of
the Step 1 button.

In
Step 2 your computer is scanned for all compatible file extension types. 
Your results will vary depending on what is installed on your computer.  I was surprised that .jpg and .gif files were not included in my Available
File Types list but every other file type I’ve ever heard of was.

Step
3 has you selecting the printers that you want to be available as well
as setting the default one.  Your printer capabilities will vary
depending on which printers you have available.  You can not change
the Printer Capabilities section as these options are determined by
the program.

Step
4 synchronizes all of the changes you have made to your Pocket
PC.  At this point you are ready to go and print your documents.   Any time after the initial setup you can start the ActivePrint Server
on your PC and change the settings. 

PROGRAM
FEATURES

  
There are two parts to the ActivePrint program.  The ActivePrint
Server runs on your desktop and controls all of your basic settings. 
Adding and removing printers is accomplished by using the ActivePrint
Server.  You will also use the ActivePrint Server to scan for file
types as new programs are installed on your computer.  The server
contains quite a few options; I’ll cover each below.

  • Show
    Print Status – displays a small status windows that appears above
    your system icons and shows which documents are printing. 
  • Auto
    Printing – all queued documents will print once you have an ActiveSync
    connection. 
  • Manual
    Print – this button is used to force print if Auto Printing is disabled.
  • Check
    for update every – this allows you to change the frequency that ActivePrint
    checks for an update.  You can’t type in this box so you’ll have
    to use the up/down arrows.  The max setting is 240 minutes. 
  • Enable
    Check For Update – if you don’t want the program checking for updates
    you can always disable it by removing this check.
  • File
    Types – opens the exact same dialog box that you had in step 2 of
    the setup for scanning new file types.
  • New
    Printers – opens up the exact same dialog box you had in step 3 of
    the setup for adding and removing printers
  • PDA
    Manager –  shows you the currently installed PDAs.  If you
    have a version of ActivePrint that supports more than one PDA you
    will be able to manage them here. 

   

The
ActivePrint Mobile Client resides on your Pocket PC and allows you to
select files that you want to print and queues them up.  When printing
you will need to start the ActivePrint program and then select the documents
that you want to print.

The
process for selecting a file is easy.  The file menu gives you
three basic choices.  You can choose or remove files from the ActivePrint
queue or you can close the program; it’s great to see developers including
a close/exit function within their programs.

Selecting
Choose File brings up a familiar file management menu.  It allows
you to choose which folder you search in and then what extension your
searching for.  If you select All folders it will scan your Pocket
PC for all files of that type. 

I
found the searches to be very quick, as the most broad search I conducted
for .txt files and it took under 3 seconds for the list to populate.

At
this point you can see what is in your queue.  The next time you
connect with ActiveSync all documents that are in your queue will be
printed.

    

If
you installed more than one printer when you setup ActivePrint, you
will be able to choose your default printer. 

Each
document has it’s own print properties.  If you tap and hold on
any document in your queue it will bring up a menu where you can Choose
Printer or Remove File. 

If
you select Choose printer a documents properties page will pop up where
you can select the printer as well as print options for that document. 

    

  
There is also a settings menu item that will optimize ActiveSync to
work with ActivePrint.  This sets ActiveSync to maintain a connection
while syncing remotely.  With this setting enabled you can be assured
that your print will finish when you connect to ActiveSync remotely. 
Please remember that this is a setting that will affect how your Pocket
PC connects with ActiveSync and it will not automatically disconnect
your ActiveSync connection when done.   

   After connecting to ActiveSync
the printing process starts and in most cases, this processes occured
quickly, but occasionally it would request some user intervention which
I explain in the Bugs and Wishes section. 

HELP SUPPORT

    The help program does not reside on the
Pocket PC or desktop computer.  Any part of the program where there
is a Help option will take you to the ActivePrint
help guide
at the Pocket Watch Software website.  Once there
the document offers an Introduction which includes a tutorial as well
as a Getting Started Guide.  The help file is informative and contains
lots of screen shots for a clear explanation.  I had a few questions
while reviewing the software and got quick responses by using the email
technical support link.  The Pocket Watch Software policy is to
respond within one business day to any questions or comments regarding
their software and I found this policy to hold true.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The system requirements were copied directly from
the ActivePrint web page. 


On the Desktop:

  • OS:  Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP
    Professional, Windows 2000

  • Processor: 500 MHz or greater

  • RAM: 64 MB (128 recommended)

  • Hard Drive Space: 3 MB

  • Microsoft ActiveSync 3.5 or better to connection
    to the Pocket PC

  • Connection to a printer

On the
Pocket PC:

  • OS:  Pocket PC 2002, Windows Mobile Edition
    (Pocket PC 2003), Windows Mobile Second Edition

  • Storage Space: 1 MB (Not on a storage card)

BUGS AND WISHES

   
The program worked as advertised but I did run into
a few bugs.  I had a problem choosing printers
for documents in the ActivePrint Mobile Client. 
My printers are installed and I’m able to select any
of them as a default printer but when I try to
choose a printer for each document the only option
was my default printer.  The other printers
didn’t show up.  It took me a while to figure
it out but the printer drop down box doesn’t really
drop down and it only shows the default printer. 
By chance I tried my directional button and noticed
that the Printer box did cycle through the printers
with the directional pad only.  I was not
able to change all settings on all printers; however,
I was able to select Color for a Black & White Laser
Printer.  Don’t worry, it didn’t print out in
color! 

   
Another problem I ran into was when documents were printing.  For
the most part the queued documents printed automatically but occasionally
a Word  or Excel document would pause and ask me if I wanted to
save changes before exiting.  I was unable to produce this problem
at will but did see it 5 times during the 3 days I used the program. 
I also noticed that .gif and .jpg files are not supported and I discovered
that most graphic extensions were not included but every other file
you can imagine is.  You can find out exactly which files are supported
at the ActivePrint’s website
(ActivePrint Compatible File Types)

PURCHASING

   
You can purchase ActivePrint in many different versions which range
from an Individual to a Corporate license costing from $29.99 to $64.99.  You can find it on their website at Purchase
the version of ActivePrint right for you
or at the pocketnow
store
.  For more information on this product please visit the ActivePrint
home page.

PROS

  • Compatible
    with as many as 60 file types
  • Prints by using ActiveSync
    connection via wired, Wifi, or Bluetooth connection
  • No additional hardware
    needed

CONS

  • Can’t
    print from within a program
  • Printing
    contacts, web pages, or appointments is tricky and
    requires multiple steps
  • Individual version is a bit
    pricey

OVERALL IMPRESSION

  
ActivePrint provides an affordable and comprehensive way to use program
to print a wide variety of documents with your existing hardware. That
said, I would like to be able to print from within the program I’m working
on just like I can on my desktop or laptop.  For me, this is the
most productive way to work.  With the ActivePrint solution I am
not able to print my email, appointments, or web pages without copying
and pasting into some document and then using ActivePrint to choose
that file and select it for printing.  Perhaps I’m looking for
the Holly Grail of printing applications and for now it doesn’t exist.  Until I can find this perfect program (or Microsoft builds in a print
solution to Windows Mobile) I’ll use ActivePrint to fill the Pocket
PC printing gap.

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