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January 2002

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Personal Information Managers for OS/2

By Isaac Leung © January 2002

I've always wanted to have a nice, tidy, organized life, but it just hasn't worked out that way. At least it's not due a lack of tools though. If you need some sort of Personal Information Manager (PIM), much like most other software categories) OS/2 will probably have something to fit your needs.

In this review, I'll briefly go through 5 packages:

Every package was installed on my Thinkpad PII-300, which has a clean install of the Warp 4 Convenience Pack (CP) + Fixpak 1 for the CP. I tested all of them for a week (the same week), so the same meetings and tasks were scheduled to see how each of them handled exactly the same tasks.

What about Outlook?

Okay, maybe I need to give a disclaimer of some sort or at least brief you on my background. I've been using Microsoft Outlook (from Outlook 97 through to Outlook 2000) every single business day. Much like the rest of Microsoft Office, it's sort of an industry "standard" that most companies will be using. (Look, I'm not saying it's a good thing or not, it just is the case at the current time).

So, will my experiences be biased by Outlook? You betcha! I'll make the occasional references too Outlook to, but don't think that these OS/2 PIM's take a backseat to Outlook! That all-in-one plus e-mail program isn't all it's cracked up to be. For starters, Outlook isn't always as "integrated" as you might think. For example, I can't look at my Contacts list and click on the e-mail address to automatically e-mail a message. I have to cut 'n paste or drag 'n drop to a new message. Pretty much like having to use 2 separate packages.

And in a rather ironic turn, it's at the same time not integrated enough and too integrated. Since it's one monolithic package, I can't do two things at once. For example, I might want to check my daily calendar, figure out when I have time and reference my contact list to e-mail my supplier. There's only one screen, so you have to flip back and forth. Worse, everytime you change the function you're viewing, the view gets reset (e.g. if I look at next week's calendar, change back to my e-mail list, then back to my calendar again, it is reset to the current week). It may be a bit hard to explain it well, but suffice to say, I do find myself cutting and pasting information a lot with Outlook just so I can have 2 pieces of information at the same time! So with the integration this weak, yet a big, monolithic package being more of a roadblock to getting things done, you might as well run separate applications, each the best of its breed.

Is that all?

I certainly didn't manage to cover everything that's out there for OS/2! If you're interested, I know of a couple other programs I didn't get a chance to review:

And the winner is...! I'm not going to pick a winner because each person will have their own needs. While some packages are hands-down more powerful in every area, some of you don't need that power and price is more of a concern. So, I'll do my best to highlight the features' strengths/weaknesses of each package and let you decide for yourself based on your own needs.

If your needs are pretty simple and you're on a tight budget, either ExCal or IBM Works may be the best. If you have a bit more budget, Relish is a top choice for time management. A light, fast organizer with tons of features and a company to stand behind it. If you need group scheduling functions, you might be better off with StarOffice or Lotus Organizer, or maybe Relish Web will do the job. And of course, some of you may like to synchronize data with a Palm Pilot or Visor. In that case, you are stuck with StarOffice, at least until the next update to Relish.

It's really up to you to decide what sort of features you need and which one works the way you want it to. The one with the most features isn't always the best, if you don't need them all. I figure it's simply my job to introduce you to all the possible choices.


PM Postnotes

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