If you own a Pocket PC, you gotta be using one of the Resco applications. Resco has become synonymous with high-quality utitilies for primarily the Mobile Windows platform (while some of their products are available for PalmOS and Symbian). We take a look at their Media Suite for PPC, File Explorer and PhotoViewer for PalmOS 4/5 and the Guardians 2D game for PPC (with screenshots).
Audio Recorder 3.20 (PPC)
Here’s a lovely audio recorder for Windows Mobile devices that include an embedded microphone. It is both a recorder and a player and it can play many different formats, like mp3 and ogg. It also includes a Voice Activated System that it can start recording on-voice-demand. There is also a tag editor, and a simple sound editor that allows you to put together different recordings and export them as one. There is also a Scheduler that you can instruct it what time to start and stop a recording! Also, in the settings you can specify the quality of the output format. You can listen to my recording here, which is an mp3 at 22050 Hz, 16bits, mono, 56 kbps. As all of the Resco apps, Audio Recorder supports the VGA PDAs natively and it includes two themes for portrtait and landscape viewing. I found the app really nice, it’s just that it crashed once after deleting one of my test recordings.
Overall Rating: 9/10
Photo Viewer 5.20 (PPC & PalmOS 4/5)
Now, this is the flagship product of Resco. And it’s indeed a remarkable application. Even my husband — who is a difficult person to get him use strange new apps– liked it! The Pocket PC version of Photo Viewer is much more advanced than the PalmOS version. It includes a splash “action-oriented” full screen menu and after you load an image (or album) to view, it loads a different screen with many toolbar icons allowing you to change views, lightly edit the picture, start a slide-show etc. There are so many features on this application that I don’t know how to start beginning describing it. You can send images via email, infrared or Bluetooth, you can view images via HTTP, it has SMS image format support, gazillion of preferences (maybe a bit too much actually), categorization of albums etc. This is THE image viewer you have been longing for.
Who needs the iPod Photo or the Epson photo viewer now? With a recent PDA you can use CF cards or microdrives up to 8 GBs and fill it up with QVGA or VGA pictures in it for pure photo viewing usage (not storage). I reckon that I can fit about 20,000 VGA .jpeg pictures on my 1 GB SD card, so all I needed was an app like this to view them properly. Resco’s PhotoViewer includes a desktop application that allows for easy creation of albums and automatic resizing of your current full-size pictures, but I prefer to use Photoshop’s jpeg algorithm which is known to deliver extremely good quality for smaller filesize (apparently Adobe uses a trick found in the appendices of jpeg’s documentation). Also, I wish there was a way for Resco’s screen capture option to also capture PNGs instead of just BMP and JPEG.
On the PalmOS land, I can’t say the same good things though. There are two binaries for the PalmOS version. One for PalmOS 4.x and one for PalmOS 5.x. The 5.x only has a few of the features found on the PocketPC version (no PNG support for example) but it’s still a great tool and I find it easier to use than the PPC version. Slideshows and categorization works great.
On the PalmOS 4.x though, it’s a different story. The application requires up to 4 seconds to read a 25 KB QVGA .jpeg file on a Clie T615-C 33 Mhz, while SONY’s own image reader can do it in about 1 second. Also, there is some sort of a visual bug in the app, where some of the text is rendering with white font on a white-ish background making it really difficult to read what’s in there. If Resco can fix these issues, even the PalmOS 4.x version would be a killer app for the platform.
Overall: 9.5/10 (PPC)
Overall: 7/10 (PalmOS)
File Explorer 5.13 (PPC & PalmOS 4/5)
Here’s another great app. This file manager is a full-featured app and it includes file encryption, backup, zip compression, samba networking (both client & server!), BT and IrDA beaming & receiving, a registry editor, FTP capabilities and a built-in viewer for some kind of files. What more could someone ask from a PDA file manager?
The app also supports a drag-n-drop mode, a one and two-way pane viewing, it has multi-selection, and an advanced ‘Find’ dialog among other things. The file manager works well and it delivers what it promises.
On the PalmOS side, again, the version of the file manager sold is a much simpler and less-full-featured version. Still, it’s a good option though as the program is able to utilize the HiRes and HiRes+ of PalmOS just fine.
I don’t have any gripes for the File Manager at all, except maybe for an option to change the view kind of the tree sub-window. Also, I don’t quite like the sneaking of the “Encrypt” capability added on my *desktop* Windows Explorer shell menu without a clean indication that this was for my desktop file manager and not for my PPC one. Maybe the desktop add-ins should be highlighted with a different color during the installation of the program.
Overall: 9/10 (PPC)
Overall: 8/10 (PalmOS)
Resco Keyboard PRO 4.33 (PPC)
It was always striking me as weird that the PPC platform was using the virtual keyboard solution as the default one while PalmOS had Graffiti. The PPC has 4 alternative input methods (including a graphiti-like option) but the virtual keyboards seem to be faster to deal with. Resco’s keyboard Pro is a great additional solution to the existing keyboard for several reasons: First of all, it is able to support two languages at the same time. I am now able to input both english and greek characters without changing localizations and the like from preference panels! A simple stroke will change the keyboard layout on the fly for me!
Then, there is gesture support, auto-repeat support, a choice of three layouts for the numeric keypads (one of them includes a calculator!) and of course, skins (however, the default is actually the best from a usability standpoint). I found the Resco keyboard look and usability way better than the default Microsoft one which is more difficult to point with the stylus because of its brightness and non-bold characters on the keys. To start using the Resco keyboard you will need to soft-reset the machine btw (because it’s a kind of a driver).
Here’s a great vertically scrolling shoot-em-up for your PocketPC. There is not much to say about the game, it’s a classic shoot-em-up, graphics are great (especially on my VGA screen), sound effects are superb, difficulty is sane through the levels. The game defaults on auto-shooting which is a good thing as most PDAs have a terrible arrow-pad in regards to their usability for games. If you like shoot-em-ups, or you simply looking into killing your time while waiting for a bus or a train, Guardians will be a good companion.
People who have read my reviews in the past know that I am not an easy person to please. However, the folks over at Resco have some fine apps over there. In fact, the Pocket PC world would have been a half-baked platform for me without these applications. To express how much I appreciate the quality and usefulness of these apps, I can only say that I wish that Microsoft buys the company and integrates these apps as defaults to the OS. That’s how good and refreshing they are.