PhatWare Corporation's note-taking program 83676 PhatPad 2.2 for Windows Mobile Pocket PC comes with a companion desktop application and it is a serious program if you want an application for note taking, scribbling or doodling on your Pocket PC.
What’s most interesting is that its companion desktop application is in itself a great program. It works well on a desktop or laptop, but it is a perfect addition for a Tablet PC when coupled with a Pocket PC.
The official blurb says “PhatPad turns any Windows Mobile-based Pocket PC into the ultimate notepad. With the PDA stylus, users can draw pictures, jot text notes, or combine text, drawings, and pictures to increase their personal and/or professional productivity.”
Is that right? Well, I spent sometime with it (a little bit too long, since this review should be up a month or so ago!) and I am happy to say it is all that it claims.
The mobile version of this program works very well on a Pocket PC, and it actually recognizes the stylus stroke in a smooth way, giving better doodles than the Pocket Note application.
PhatPad ready to use for note taking
Smooth draw with anti-aliasing
Users can determine different page sizes for new notes – in my case I am using the standard A4 size used in New Zealand, when in other countries users would start pages in Letter or Legal size. No problem: there’s a global setting that allows the selection of different sizes, from some square sizes (320x320, 480x480, 640x640,800x800, 1024x1024) through standard paper sizes (A5, A4, A3, A2, Letter, Legal, Ledger) or custom sizes. Additionally page size can be changed while editing the page.
Very good page size list
An interesting feature is the ability to create a page with a background image. Using this feature I was able to create a simple form on MS Paint, and using it as a background image I had a simple data entry form. Each note can accommodate multiple pages and each page will start fresh with a new blank page with the form background. Just click the arrows in the toolbar to browse through the pages.
Creating a default page with a background
Writing on top of a background
The same note on the desktop companion program (note the list of ActiveSync folders on the left)
The program options allow users to determine a prefix for the file names created with the program, and a default folder. This is very important to keep things organized. And if the folder is under \My Documents then it will be synchronized to your computer when the Pocket PC is in the cradle.
Settings files parameters
When entering notes the program allows users to select vertical and horizontal grids, or no grid at all. The Toolbar is a very nice touch, and the icons come be from selection of tools giving the user access to all functions. If your notes include some geometrical forms, the program includes a Shape Corrector function, that will streamline your straight lines, make perfect circles and beautiful triangles.
Selecting the icons for the toolbar
Using Shape Corrector
A reminder function can set an alarm on your Pocket PC that will show the note when it goes off. And a handy (no pun intended) Recognize function can translate your handwriting into text – but it requires 18748 CalliGrapher, another product from PhatWare.
The drawing can be of different thickness and colours, all easily selected from the toolbar. The same button cycles the tools between Draw, Drag, Select, Erase. When selected, “bring to front/send to back” is available, allowing for layering.
Selecting the thickness
The desktop PC application allows users to view, edit and print notes created on a Windows Mobile Pocket PC. The application has the same functionality as its Windows Mobile Pocket PC counterpart, and it even lists the PhatPad files present on ActiveSync synchronisation folders, making it easier for users to find their notes when on a desktop.
For Tablet PC users, this is even better. I tried PhatPad Windows version on my Tablet PC and it works very well, allowing me to enter precise notes. In terms of price and flexibility when synchronization is involved, it beats Windows Journal.
An interesting function, albeit one that I am not using much is the Animation. If your notes are spread throughout multiple pages, simply start the Animation function and it will “flip” through the pages automatically. Very good to illustrate ideas and showing flow in diagrams.
Overall I like PhatPad, simply because it is always there with my Pocket PC – which is with me more than my desktop or Tablet PC.
Complete note taking package including desktop companion
Lots of resources, including background images for forms
Multiple page sizes, including standard paper sizes