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Keep Track 2.1 Professional Edition review
Posted on 2-Jan-2004 18:25 by M Freitas | Filed under: Reviews

Keep Track 2.1 Professional Edition review
I have the impression that big part of the handheld users population have their PDA to fulfil their basic need for an organiser, including contacts, calendar and to-do list. Other not so big segment try to get more by adding functionality to their devices.

Financial recording is a good example of functionality that can be well adapted to handheld devices. Some mobile users need to keep records of transactions for accounting, for travel expenses, or simply for personal finance control. PDAs are great tools for this, because gives the user chance to enter these transactions as they happen or as soon as possible, making it easier to record activities before details go away from the user's mind.

Keep Track 2.1 comes in two versions: Keep Track itself is available for Windows Mobile Pocket PC and Keep Track Professional Edition comes with a desktop companion, with fully integrated record-level synchronisation via ActiveSync. Through the ActiveSync interface users can specify the number of months worth of transactions to be stored in the handheld.

The transaction dialog looks very much like an ATM interface. Users can just enter the amount, a few details and tap one of the action buttons to record this new transaction.

The program also implements OneTouch buttons, shortcuts to most common transactions. If you always withdrawal the same amount for daily cash expenses this will be a time-saver: simply edit the buttons configuration and enter the details for this transaction. You can select the option to always enter the transaction when you tap (or click if using the desktop) the button or show a confirmation dialog, where you can change details. These are handy for credit card use.

You can switch between three views: ATM-like, OneTouch buttons or transaction list. If using the Professional Edition companion on your computer you can maximise the window to actually have the transaction list always showing.

The product also comes with an Import and Export function that reads TXT, QIF and CSV files. This is util for moving data from and to Quicken or Microsoft Money, although the synchronisation via ActiveSync is only available with the companion software. I did import a few thousand records from a Microsoft Money 99 file via QIF. The software worked out well using System Settings for date: in New Zealand we use the UK format (DD/MM/YY) instead of the American format (YY/MM/DD). The only problem (and I'd blame on Microsoft Money) is that the QIF file had dates like 15/11'00 (as in 15 Nov 2000). Once I've replaced '0 with /0 to get something like 15/11/00 everything worked fine. Update: I was just informed by Ilium Software that a fix for this was implemented, and available with latest build of this software.

The application uses a from/to approach. Money is always transferred from one institution or person to another. It works very well, but I'd like to see a better support for names frequently used. Currently names are not remembered unless you manually enter them in a list. An automatic insertion would be ideal for frequently used items. Perhaps with a box like "Always show on To list", since it's more likely money will come out from one of the accounts to someone or company.

Of course Find and Find Next functionality is present. Interesting is the feature that shows totals for each account. You can have these totals shown for marked and unmarked records. In my tests these were records flagged as Reconciled on Microsoft Money, but you can set the flag for things like paid, cleared, etc and have a running total for each account.

Pocket PC: ATM-like interface

Pocket PC: OneTouch: easy to enter new records

ATM entry form

The OneTouch button view

The Transaction List view

ActiveSync options

ActiveSync options

Keep Track 2.1 performs record level synchronisation

Ilium Software makes good programs for handheld devices. I've been using eWallet since my days with Palm OS devices, and now on my Pocket PC. They also have DockWare, a desk clock for Palm OS and Windows Mobile Pocket PC and Smartphone (including a free version and a professional version).

Keep Track is a step ahead of other software, by providing true record level synchronisation between devices, making it very easy to users to work in different platforms, keeping a single view. The program itself is not a complete financial solution. You'll not be able to schedule bill payments, or generate charts. It's really intended to be a record keeper. You can use it for financial control, and it'll perform well.

If chart generation, bill payment management or even a better reconciliation process are requirements, certainly the QIF import/export feature will let users keep their records on current desktop programs like Quicken or MS Money. The great advantage is for users who need to be mobile and still have access to their finance controls. These should seriously look into this product.

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