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TreoMemo for Treo 650, 680, 700p, 755p

Wed Jun 27, 2007 - 9:59 AM EDT - By Jay Gross

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Quick, jot some quick notes for that staff meeting, and don�t forget to call your friend with the swim meet results and the coach�s number. This is a job for (drum roll)TreoMemo. Yank out your stylus and let�s have a look.

You�re probably already familiar with the Memos app that came with your Treo. It works. Beyond that, however, it leaves something to be desired. It has little support for looking up information in the Contacts database, and if you want a reminder of something to do, it�s definitely not the unit of choice � better off with Calendar, which doesn�t have much as immediate support of explanatory text or notes, and doesn�t integrate with Memos even a little bit.

TreoMemo sets out to solve that problem, and in most respects it succeeds, leaving only a few niceties unvisited. If you do a lot of jotting � of memos, that is � TreoMemo runs circles around the native app, and at only $9.95 it�s easy to justify if only for its search. This feature will let you find a memo by what�s in it � a great boon if you have basket loads of them to look through.


The program implements a �skin� that installs over its user interface. The features are the same, but the look can be different. Or not. The �default� skin is a pleasant sticky-note graphic with icons at the bottom and pulldown menus hidden at the top. Press the Treo�s menu button or tap the very top edge of the screen to get the menus.

Additional skins are available for free from the company�s website. There�s a copper themed one, as well as crimson for appropriately colored Treos. Or mix and match.

The program�s menu structure contains many more features and options than the Treo�s native Memos app. The most welcome of these is �Alarm.� This simply means you can set up a reminder for any memo in TreoMemo�s clutches. The alarm can repeat in an admirably extensive array of options. It can even play an MP3 music (or digitized voice) file instead of a ringtone or other alert sound. If you choose, the music or sound can repeat, and MP3 music can continue playing.

The pullup menu for alarm options includes selectable increments up to seven days, but if you choose �Custom� from that menu, you can set up repeating reminders by day of week. These options are in many ways superior to those in the Calendar app. In Calendar, the emphasis is on time, rather than text. It allows adding a note to accompany any event � I use it for directions and contact name for presentations and meetings. However, the note behaves like an afterthought and Contacts offers no searching for words or phrases within the available notes.

TreoMemo makes the �note� the main item, but it doesn�t display a calendar that lists events by day or time stamp � though you can sort memos by date entered. The program�s advantage is being able to search the memos for a word or phrase. It won�t replace Calendar, by any means, but since I need a reminder like �Take blood pressure pills� every day at 9am, it�s nice to have that little alert accompanied by my favorite pianist, Marina Lomazov, batting out some nerve-soothing Haydn.

At first, I found it a little tricky to stop the music once it�s playing, whether or not I turned on continuous play. The process involves going to the menu and editing the alarm.

When the program issues an alarm, it triggers the standard Treo alert system, so you can deal with it in the usual way. Nothing new here, and brilliantly so - no use adding complexity where none is needed or warranted.

What does all this mean? How about an alarm clock with multiple modes and events? Maybe one with multiple settings throughout the day, and the ability to repeat its alarms differently for each day of the week. Here�s the answer. Set a wakeup at 9 in the morning on weekdays, lunch break at noon on Monday and Tuesday, 1pm on Wednesday and 11:30 other days. Except Sundays, when brunch is at 11am and, well, you get the idea. As far as I can tell, however, all the alarms will play the same sound or MP3 file, but that�s what clock radios are for, aren�t they?

I already have a Treo-bound clock app � other than the native Treo one, that is. It�s Clocher, the fine freeware by Pierre Raufast, which chimes the hours like a French village horlage (clock), skipping le weekend, s�il vous plait.. I love it, and I�ve dedicated my Treo 680 to running it, reminding like a grandfather clock I don�t have one of that it�s time for blood pressure pills, lunch, etc. TreoMemo brings something else � music! So maybe I�ll move Clocher to my Treo 700p and let them both chime away the hours as I work.

Both worlds

The program plays nice with its companion. It uses the native Memos database, so if you already have note-taking content in your Treo, all of it appears as though you�d input everything in TreoMemo from the start, including category names and assignments.

I had no trouble, and caused no crashes, switching back and forth between the two � they appear completely interchangeable, a good thing if you need to beam something (more on this issue shortly). Everything that one of the apps did the other one recognized seamlessly, and neither seemed to care that the other one had been used. Guess this is an advantage of non-multitasking, since the database isn�t really shared, just opened in turn by different programs.

Maybe you can thumb your way through a long memo to yourself or someone else, but my thumbs get tired. Fast. I�m delighted to report that TreoMemo offers an alternative. Tap the keyboard icon at the bottom of the screen, and the memo�s display shrinks to admit a graphic screen-bound keyboard that you can tap, instead of the mechanical keyboard.

A menu at the bottom of the screen keyboard lets you switch among alphabets (the shift keys behave the same way as the thumb board), numbers and punctuation, and accented alphabets and additional punctuation. The Treo keyboard still works, so you can use both. Indeed, you�ll have to resort to the native keyboard for a simple exclamation point (!). I couldn�t find one in the on-screen layout. It�s easy to get accented characters without the screen-bound assistant (type a character, leave the cursor next to it and hit the Alt key; a menu of possibilities will appear), but in many cases it might be quicker or more convenient to tap the keyboard icon and pick what you want.

TreoMemo also offers an elaborate block selection system that you can enable (or not) from its Preferences screen. I didn�t like it, but most of my memos are short enough to fit on one or two screens.

What�s missing?

Treo�s native app, Memos, permits beaming its notes or even whole categories of them to other devices. It�s simple, easy, fast, and doesn�t depend on any high-falutin� network protocols (like Bluetooth). I often beam stuff among my Treos, moving information around, or matching the content of one to the other for one purpose or another. For practical purposes, this isn�t really an issue, since I can open Memos to do the beaming, but I expected TreoMemo to build on the feature list of its predecessor, not omit anything.

Other than beaming, the program�s options to export are extensive. When you send as SMS, however, it leaves you in the Messaging app. Have to go back to the apps screen to get back to TreoMemo.

Another wish I�d make is the ability to dial a phone number from within a memo. The native Memos app doesn�t do this, and neither does TreoMemo. I know this trick is possible, however, because the Messaging app manages it in directory assistance SMS�s I get from Sprint on my 700p. They send an SMS with a phone number in it, and when the message displays on the Treo screen it�s �hot,� so all I have to do is tap it to dial. Sweet.

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