SPB Software House Traveler v1.0

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INTRODUCTION

      Remember when traveling used to be fun? Really… it was… back before the days of body scanners, long security lines and airlines that didn’t have pillows on board so they can save a few cents. Today, travel is difficult and the average business traveler usually arrives at their destination rather weary. A few software publishers have made applications available that try to ease the pain of traveling, most notably Worldmate 2006 and Fizz Traveler. Now, SPB has entered the Right now, Worldmate 2006 Pro is my travel software of choice… will SPB Traveler convince me to change flights?game with their newest application, SPB Traveler. SPB is a well-respected member of the Windows Mobile community and I was excited to see what SPB Traveler brings to the table.

WHAT’S HOT

      As a new application, SPB Traveler has an all-new list of features:

  • World time
  • Weather forecast
  • Currency converter
  • Unit converter
  • Clothing sizes
  • Dial codes
  • Tip calculator
  • Flight assistant
  • Meeting planner

SETUP

      The setup process is pretty
normal for a Windows Mobile device.  Just run the .exe file from your desktop PC and the application will install via ActiveSync or the Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC).

   This is not a mistake… SPB Traveler requires 5.7MB of storage space… YIKES!!! Fortunately, you can install it to a storage card.

First task… add the city you live in and cities that you travel to.

Since I live in Orlando, Florida that was the first city I added. You can enter cities by typing in part of the name, searching by country or even by airport.

My next trip includes stops in Amsterdam and Zurich so I added those cities as well. You can see that the application shows the time for each city and will also show the currency rate once updated.

The view can be changed, but I found that the "Wide" setting worked well. After setting up the cities you can update the weather and currency rates.

Unfortunately, the currency rates and weather did not update while my Treo was connected to the PC, but I think this is the fault of WMDC since it worked fine once I disconnected it. Once setup is complete the today screen plug-in appears.

That’s better! Here is the today screen plug-in as it is supposed to appear.




PROGRAM FEATURES

    Now that setup is complete, let’s take a look at all the various features of SPB Traveler.

    

This is the "home" screen of SPB Traveler and now that everything is updated, you can see the currency rates and weather for each city that has been setup. You can also add or remove a city from the menu left softkey.

    
     

Clicking the right softkey, labeled "Tools" will bring up the rest of the functions contained within SPB Traveler. Let’s take a look at each one.

    

The Flight Assistant module allows you to add your flights into groups called "Trips" and view them in order. Flights are input similarly to a calendar appointment, but with flight-specific fields.

Once all the flights are entered you can view them as a trip. Based on what you entered in the "Flight No." field, SPB Traveler will insert the airline logo.

    

The "Menu" in the Flight Assistant module allows you to add flights and create/load/save/delete trips.

    

SPB Traveler will also automatically create an appointment in your calendar for each flight you add. The flights are also automatically adjusted for the correct time zone.

      Although I appreciate the automatic appointment adjustment for time zones, there is a strange bug here that adjusts the calendar appointment’s time based on the departure city’s time zone of the calendar appointment, but does not change the times in the Trip view. To be honest, the whole time zone thing in Windows Mobile is so annoying that I typically just change the actual time on the clock versus changing the time zone. I don’t like having all my appointments moved around. I would like to see an option to have the calendar appointment not adjusted for time zones in SPB Traveler. It is also confusing when you see one time on the Trip view and another on the calendar appointment.

    
 

The Currency Converter module does exactly what it says and if your device has an internet connection, it can update the conversion rates. There is also a pop-up calculator in the converter so you can perform quick calculations.

Just about any currency that you can think of (and plenty you have never heard of) are supported in SPB Traveler.

The Unit Converter module allows you to convert items such as Celsius to Fahrenheit and Feet to Meters… you can see the complete list of unit types in the above screenshot. I like how the look and feel of this screen and the currency converter are consistent.

  

The Meeting Planner module helps you to plan a meeting with participants in different parts of the world. You begin by selecting the time and date you will be in.

    

Next, you specify reminders and the meeting notes. Finally, you can click "Menu" and then "Customize" to see the calendar appointment that will be created.

  

The Clothing Sizes module allows you to see what size clothes are in different countries. There are many different categories of clothing as you can see in the screenshot.


Although you can view clothing sizes by themselves, a more interesting feature is the ability to add People and customize their sizes. This is especially helpful for gift shopping while abroad.

  

You will need to input the person’s name and whether they are a Man, Woman or Child. Afterwards, you can specify their sizes in each category of clothing.

    

There are categories to cover just about all types of clothing. Once the person is added and their sizes entered, you can view the person’s sizes directly instead of going through the normal Clothing Sizes screen.

The Time Converter module is pretty self-explanatory. There is also a list of Time Zones around the world available in this module’s "Menu".

The Tips Calculator is a handy feature. One really nice feature is the ability to have the module calculate the amount of the tip if it is split up between people.

     One feature I would like to see added is a cheat sheet in the Tips Calculator explaining what is customary tipping in various countries. This feature would then need to go a step further and allow you to specify what type of service you are receiving. For example, in many countries you may tip 10% for a restaurant but for a taxi driver you are only supposed to round the total to the nearest 5 or 10 mark.

The final module is the SPB Traveler Game. The game offers you the chance to test your knowledge of country cities, capitals and flags.

In the game options, you can choose what type of questions you would like and how long you would like a game to last.

The left schreenshot shows a typical geography question while the right one shows a typical flag question.

Most SPB applications have extensive options and Traveler is no different. You can configure the today screen plug-in as well as what type of units you would like as default.

Additional options include download options. The right screenshot are the options you can choose for weather download.

These are the options for currency download.

Finally, you can choose your home currency and tell the application where to store its’ cache. I pointed the cache to my storage card to preserve system memory.

HELP SUPPORT

    I was provided with a pre-release review copy, so there was no instruction manual provided. I am sure that upon release SPB will do their normal great job of providing documentation and online support via e-mail, website and forums.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS


    SPB Traveler requires:

  • Microsoft Windows
    Mobile Powered Pocket PC
  • Approximately 5.7MB of
    free storage space (can be installed to a
    storage card)
  • Additional storage
    space is required by the cache which can also be pointed to a storage card

BUGS AND WISHES

   
The only bug I found was the previously mentioned one regarding time zones and how flights are displayed in the trip view versus the calendar appointment. To be honest, this may not even be a bug… it may be planned. Either way, it is confusing and needs to be worked on.

   
A big feature that is missing from SPB Traveler is online flight information and updates. To me, this is Worldmate’s killer feature. I simply love being able to simply enter a date and flight number and having Worldmate go out and retrieve the flight times, updates and gate information. Although Worldmate costs a lot more (a LOT more), I still think this is the killer feature for most travelers.

   
I would also like to see the ability to add more types of events to your trips. Worldmate allows you to enter your hotel reservation and rental car information. I would go a step further and add the ability to enter train and boat information as well.

    The Tip Calculator function should also be expanded to include customary tips in different countries for different types of services.

    My final wish is that the program footprint was made smaller. 5.7MB is huge. Worldmate takes up about the same amount of space, but it adds the online flight information functionality, so I accept the larger footprint. Without this functionality, there is no reason SPB Traveler should be so big.

PURCHASING

   
SPB Traveler costs $29.95 and you can pick it up from the pocketnow.com store, where a trial is also available. This is in line with Fizz Traveler and is much cheaper than Worldmate. Considering that this program almost effectively replaces SPB Weather ($14.95) and most of SPB Time ($14.95) plus it adds additional features, the price seems pretty reasonable. Even so, for the frequent flyer, Worldmate is worth the money.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Lots of
    features
  • Mostly replaces SPB Weather and SPB Time functionality
  • Clothing sizes can be stored for people

CONS

  • Uses 5.7MB of storage space!
  • Odd time zone behavior for flight information
  • No online flight information
  • Cannot input travel info other than flights
Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall


OVERALL IMPRESSION

    SPB Traveler is a nice addition to SPB’s software offerings. The program is stable and very easy to use. It is interesting how SPB is now packaging "lite" versions of some of their applications together with other functionality. This started with SPB Mobile Shell and now is continuing with SPB Traveler. If the online flight information is not important to you and you have storage memory to spare, SPB Traveler is a good choice. Personally, I will be sticking with Worldmate because I need the online flight info.




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