Omega One Battery Pack Pro v3.0

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INTRODUCTION

    When is a battery pack not a battery pack? When it tells you the time, your forecast, your exchange rate, network status, plus contains a
flashlight, task manager, application launcher, 411, google search, reverse number lookup, mapquest directions… the list goes
on. Omega One, creators of various today screen plug-ins, have updated their ever
popular “Battery Pack Pro” software. The title "Batter Pack" is somewhat misleading, it should really be called “All-in-one Pro” judging by what is contained within this package. Does this latest iteration fix the earlier bugs? Do all
the ancillary tasks work together in harmony? Read on as we put Battery Pack Pro v3.0 through the grinder!


SETUP

    No issues were encountered during the installation of Battery Pack Pro, although it’s unfortunate to see they
are still advertising other software, requiring several additional clicks to get where you need to go. Battery Pack Pro must be installed into main memory. I tried to install it onto a storage card (hey, the install
instructions only mention that Journal Bar must be installed into main memory), but the results were disastrous (buttons stopped working, settings wouldn’t stick, you get the idea). An uninstall/reinstall later and I was on my way.

During the install Omega One promote other software titles. By default "Journal Bar" trialware is selected, so if you are not paying attention it will be installed.

Here’s a shot during the device install; the user has the option of customizing what items they would like to install.

    

The tutorial kicks in as soon as installation is complete. The user can view all 12 screens, or bang-out by hitting the "X".

PRODUCT FEATURES

    This applications has a whole slew of features. During the install process I skimmed the Omega One site to give myself a bit of prep. Installation complete, I anxiously launched the today screen to see what shape it was in….

Yee gads. Death by icon… After the initial install, pretty much every option is turned "on" by default. Note the new calendar bar in the last plug-in position

That’s more like it. After a little bit of tweaking, I was able to reduce things back my usual minimalist approach.

    Battery Pack Pro is modular, and therefore can be basically broken down into three areas. For the purpose of this review I will call these: Program Bar, Batter Bar and Power Bar. At a glance the major new additions as part of the v3.0 facelift include:

  • A new Search Bar – Google, Mapquest, 411 and more
  • An integrated Calendar Bar – Calendar events can either be added as a plug-in or tab
  • Optional Power Start button – Allows a user to customize the start button behavior
  • An enhanced Program Bar – Tabbed program bar with the ability to tab 3rd party apps

    Now for a bit more detail. Of the three main areas (Program, Battery and Power), the

Program Bar

has had the biggest overhaul since v2.0. I’ll run through this first. The Program Bar, for Battery Pack virgins, is essentially, an application launcher. Users now have the option of using tabs, including the ability to tab existing today
screen plug-ins; this even extends to most 3rd party application plug-ins.

Here’s a shot of the Pocket MSN today screen plug-in viewed as a new tab within the Program Bar.

    As well as the ability to pretty much tab anything, Omega One have created a few new tabs with the release of v3.0. Of these, I was very pleased to see the new Search Bar. It can be used as a standalone plug-in or as a tab on
the
program bar. Those of you who own a Treo 700w will be familiar with this concept. This search bar has quite a wide range of functionality though: Google search, open URL, 411 (residential), 411 (business), reverse phone
lookup and lastly to/from directions via mapquest. Clicking on the Search Bar logo cycles views. I found this bar to be an excellent resource and well designed.

    

Here’s a demonstration of the Search Bar, google results are opened via the default browser.

    As you can probably imagine, the Program Bar is fully customizable. Settings can be activated by tapping the cog icon to the immediate left of the plug-in. Launching the Program Bar settings brings about the following screens:

    

The first screen within the Program Bar settings allows users to add/remove plus modify tabs. The second screen deals mainly with aesthetics; bar height, transitions, optional text.

The last screen among the Program Bar settings assigns actions to the start/OK buttons. Useful if you do not have a task manager or want to turn the "OK" button into an actual "close" button.

    Next stop is the Battery Bar. Tantamount to the Program Bar, it’s another today screen plug-in. The Battery Bar hasn’t changed a lot since version 2.0, however, it’s still very useful and has become a permanent fixture on my
today screen. The Battery Bar provides information at a glance, containing such features as: battery status, memory consumed (both internally and on storage cards), time zones and network information. Once again, it is fully customizable, settings can be accessed by tapping the battery logo and selecting "settings".

    

Customizing the Battery Bar allows the user to fine tune this feature, including how many icons, and at what size, they would like to display on the Battery Bar.

    

The available icons include useful tools such as weather forecasts and network details. Speech can also be toggled via this menu.

The last screen within the Battery Bar settings menu contains the variables for the top task bar, here users can
select what to display. The options are limited so I stuck with the stock standard battery and time/date defaults.

    The other major feature of Battery Pack Pro is the Power Bar. This module contains the Power Store, Power
Clean, Power Adjust, Power Time, Power Alert and Power Light facets. This area has not changed significantly from version 2.0. It is quite a vast area, containing a lot of different information. I will attempt quickly describe this area:

    

When opening the Power Bar from the Battery Bar logo, the screen defaults to Power Store. This contains a summary of your device’s vital statistics.

    

Here are a few more shots from the Power Store. Self explanatory, they display the battery and memory usage over a given period of time.

Power Clean acts as a sweeper, removing dead files which could be consuming space on your device unnecessarily. A useful feature.

    

Power Time lets a user access information about various cities worldwide. The city database is quite comprehensive, and unless you live somewhere really obscure, I suspect you won’t have any trouble finding your nearest metro area/home town.

    

Power light and Power Alert remain unchanged from the previous version. Unfortunately, the gripe about having to manually set the backlight to max brightness remains in v3.0.

    Last up are the settings and help options. The settings access the various pages already described, nothing new is added. The help file is very comprehensive; I was able to quickly navigate to relevant text within a matter of seconds. With a program this extensive, it’s defiantly warranted.

    

The settings and help files can be found as the last two tabs within the Power Bar menu.

    Obviously, I have not covered everything. The main features have been discussed, but there are a lot of other miscellaneous features that generally enhance the overall use of your device. The various icons can also be skinned, adding for further customization. Whenever a battery is swapped, the user can "reset" the battery status, ensuring the monitor retains its accuracy. Also, custom icons can be selected for use with the program bar, whilst the pickings are slim, it’s a nice feature nonetheless.

    

Here we have the swap battery notification and the link create menus. Both handy little add-ons.

Here’s a shot of some large program icons, some are standard and some have been substituted from the various icons available for use. To me the icons are a little too cramped, it would have been nice to space these out using a user specified pixel width.

Battery Pack Pro also supports landscape mode, menus are shuffled accordingly to accommodate the screen layout.

It is also bundled with the standard Battery Pack task manager, while it’s nothing new, it’s still helpful.


HELP
SUPPORT

    Support is available via the Omega One website, and their site has a good Battery Pack Pro FAQ. The application has a huge help file should you get stuck and need assistance on the fly.


SYSTEM
REQUIREMENTS

    From the Omega One site: "Battery Pack Pro supports ALL Pocket PC, Pocket PC 2002, Pocket PC Phone edition, Windows Mobile 2003 & Windows Mobile 5.0 devices (except early Casio Pocket PCs, and Jornada 520/540s)."

Note: Battery Pack Pro

must

be installed into main memory. It will consume about 2.5mb, so ensure you have adequate space prior to installation.

BUGS AND WISHES

   
It appears that some of the bugs uncovered during earlier reviews of Battery Pack Pro are still extant, namely
the requirement to install this app into main memory,
manually setting the backlight to max brightness, and the advertising during install. To me, however, these are mainly inconveniences; not bugs. This is one
application users should install in main memory, it permeates the OS therefore needs to sit on the device. Minor problems I personally encountered centered around the Program Bar, specifically, the cramped icon appearance. I would have liked to have the option so set pixel width between each program link, this would have spaced it out a little. Also, adding icons seemed a little odd… It required adding each link one at a time; it would have been easier to have been presented with a list of applications to choose from.

PURCHASING

   
The product comes with a trial version, after which a registration key must be purchased for USD$29.99. Existing users of 1.x/ 2.x Battery Pack or Battery Pack Pro versions can upgrade for USD$9.99.

PROS


  • A very comprehensive solution


  • Provides accurate information at a glance


  • Allows for a high degree of user customization

CONS


  • Unable to set pixel width between program icons


  • Must be installed into main memory


  • Might be considered expensive to some users

Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall


OVERALL
IMPRESSION

    This is one application that won’t disappoint. The sheer amount of information a user can glean from this
software is staggering. Windows Mobile devices always seem to ship minus a few crucial ingredients, this app
fills that void and then some. Simple things like a real close button, Today Screen launcher, easy access
battery/memory monitors. All very useful yet somehow left out of production models of WM devices. Granted, v3.0
is not a huge upgrade; somewhat of an evolutionary rather than revolutionary solution. The new additions are welcomed though, and I was particularly enamored with the Search Bar. If you are a v2.0 owner, dropping the USD$9.99 for v3.0 might be a stretch, if you are a new user though, I would try out this program; even with the (relatively minor) cons, this app does the job of about 4-5 single products. A big thank-you to Omega One for continuing to improve on one of their core products. Well done.

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