Review: Pocket Quicken 2.0

PROS: Seamless backup to desktop Quicken; useful budget feature; integrated calculator.

CONS: No uncategorized items permitted in split transactions; inability to edit (on handheld) any transaction backed up to desktop Quicken; quirky installation procedure.

Pocket Quicken 2.0 does what it claims here: flawless synchronisation between handheld and desktop. However, it is one-way only; once transactions are uploaded to the desktop, you can’t edit them on the handheld. Worse, every cent/pence must be assigned to a category in Pocket Quicken. Do the programmers at LandWare not use cash? You withdraw cash from an ATM/hole-in-the-wall; you spend some of it now, some of it later. Well, if you record the transaction in Pocket Quicken, you either have to (a) wait until it is all spent before entering appropriate categories in your split transaction, or (b) enter the split transaction with a large segment categorised as ‘Misc’, then constantly adjust this figure as you spent the rest of the cash. At least on desktop Quicken you can override the ‘uncategorised items’ warning. Sort this out quick, please.

The installation procedure is also quirky. Here is how I managed it: (1) Install desktop Quicken. NB: Set-up password (go to File: Passwords: File); (2) Install Pocket Quicken; (3) Conduct first Palm synchronisation; (4) Open Pocket Quicken; (5) Enter desktop Quicken password in box ‘Quicken File Password’ (leave ‘Launch PIN’ = ‘-Unassigned-‘ unless you desire a PIN for Pocket Quicken); (6) Conduct second Palm synchronisation; (7) NB: Conduct future Palm synchronisation with desktop Quicken CLOSED.

Not all is bad news. Pocket Quicken’s budget feature is competitively unique, and I find it very useful. Yet if the folks at LandWare can manage to synchronise category lists, why not budgets? The integrated calculator is a convenient piece of programming. Just wish as much thought went into the rest of the package.

Overall, Pocket Quicken 2.0 is undoubtedly an improvement over version 1.0. Its (one-way) synchronisation is truly seamless, and its budget feature is unmatched. However, major improvements are still required. In the end, I could justify the purchase, with my many accounts and long transaction history. Though I hope to see some significant updates.

[This review originally appeared at Amazon.com on 25 October 2002, and at PalmGear on 31 January 2003.]

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