Use the discount code DONTGETWET to get 20% off HandyWeather in the TamsShop!
Displaying weather information was one of the oldest usage scenarios for smartphones. Since the humble beginnings, these programs have evolved significantly…some even go as far as to offer animated 3D globes.

All of this is nice and dandy when you are in a club – but when it comes to a panel for the today screen, lean is king. Can HandyWeather stack up?

Starting HandyWeather for the first time pushes you through an introduction wizard, which helps you set up the basics:
handyweather 0a HandyWeather   the review handyweather 0b HandyWeather   the review handyweather 0c HandyWeather   the review

Picking a city works well, but is slow due to the annoying animations:
handyweather 1a HandyWeather   the review

Once the wizard is gone, you find yourself confronted with the following screen:
handyweather 2a HandyWeather   the review

Tapping around on icons and the menu then lets you access a variety of other options including a detailed 24h “weather radar view”:
handyweather 3a HandyWeather   the review handyweather 3b HandyWeather   the review handyweather 3c HandyWeather   the review

The real reason most users install a program like HandyWeather is its today plug-in. HandyWeather’s plugin is lean, and can be customized comfortably to take up comparatively little space:
handyweather 4a HandyWeather   the review handyweather 4b HandyWeather   the review

As for customization, the product generally goes a long way – you can modify everything except for the highly annoying animated transitions:
handyweather 5a HandyWeather   the review handyweather 5b HandyWeather   the review

Unfortunately, Paragon had to add an extra craplet to the launcher:
nuissance HandyWeather   the review

This review looked at version 4.00 of HandyWeather on an XPERIA X1 running its stock version of Windows Mobile 6.1. The program needs about 3800KB of memory and can be installed into RAM or onto an external memory card.

Turn it around and around, but HandyWeather always remains about 2MB less fat than its competitors. Of course, it also is less flashy – but is very close to an ideal no-frills weather software. If Paragon would allow users to disable the flashy animations, eliminate the annoying icon and would clear up the GUI a bit, we had a clear winner here. As it stands now, the price of 17$ is insane…

By all means, use the discount code RIGHTWEATHERPRICE to get 20% off the regular price of SPB Weather in the TamsShop!
The display of weather information is one of the oldest applications for smartphone devices – as always-on internet connection is one of the defining properties of PocketPC smartphones, SPB was in an ideal position to offer a compelling solution – but can it stack up?

SPB Weather supports literally thousands of cities – picking the right one is straightforward:
0a SPB Weather 2   the review 0b SPB Weather 2   the review

Unfortunately, rather little information is displayed about the individual places – other products display more:
1a SPB Weather 2   the review 1b SPB Weather 2   the review

One of the most impressive features of SPB Weather is its 3D globe view, which can be used to display various parameters. Unfortunately, it is of little use as the program jumps from city to city like a rabbit on steroids…
2a SPB Weather 2   the review 2b SPB Weather 2   the review 2c SPB Weather 2   the review

SPB Weather can integrate itself into the today screen. This plugin is excellent – the screens below show a few of the millions of possible configurations:
3a SPB Weather 2   the review

SPB Weather has various options – it unfortunately seems to miss a command which disables self-updating while roaming:
4a SPB Weather 2   the review 4b SPB Weather 2   the review

Various data sources can be used to supply the data used – as the default source has served me well so far, I saw little reason to change it:
5a SPB Weather 2   the review

This review looked at version 2.0 of the program on an XPERIA X1 running its stock WM 6.1 ROM without added GL drivers of any sort. It needs about 10MB of memory and can be installed onto an external memory card.

Like many other PocketPC programs, SPB Weather unfortunately got “iPhoneitis”. It is loaded with weird transitions and non-standard UI widgets to the point of obscenity…I have opened the main program two times on my rather fast X1 and closed it immediately due to lag and disgust. The today plug-in, on the other hand, is excellent – my main eeker is that 16 USD (after my rebate) is a bit steep.

If SPB would offer the plug-in as a standalone, it would get rave reviews here. As the package currently stands, I feel that better offers are available…

gmaps01 Google Maps: StreetView for Windows MobileAfter the iPhone and Google Android received support for Google Street View, the recent update (Google Maps 2.3) enables it on Windows Mobile and Symbian OS (Series 60). This feature allows you to walk through the streets of cities and view 360° photos. There are many cities in the US which are covered by Street View and some in France. At the moment, Google is capturing photos of German cities.

So I opened Opera, the standard browser of my MDA Vario IV, also known as HTC Touch Pro. But instead of offering a download, the text on the Google Maps Mobile page said that I should open the site in my mobile browser – while I was in Opera! The solution of this problem is that Opera indentifies as a desktop browser, so Google thinks that you are using the browser on your computer. If you have a HTC Diamond, Touch Pro, or another smartphone with Opera, use the Internet Explorer instead.

gmaps021 Google Maps: StreetView for Windows MobileAfter you have opened the URL www.google.com/gmm and downloaded Google Maps for Windows Mobile, the installer will first remove the old version of Google Maps (if it is installed). Then it will install the new version.

When Google Maps starts for the first time, it shows an info about the Street View feature. But then, the interface looks like in older versions, too. The program displays the map, my position on the map (using my phone’s cell ID) and the two zoom buttons. The menu offers searching, favourites, satellite view, traffic and GPS. Still nothing new. So I went to a city which is availible in Street View – Paris, in my case. But still no new buttons or options in the menu. The message after the installation adivsed me to “press OK on the map and choose Street View” – but there is no “OK”.

gmaps031 Google Maps: StreetView for Windows MobileLater I discovered how to go to Street View: you just have to tap and hold onto the map. Then, a context menu appears and you can turn on Street View. Another possibility is to use the Search function.

You can turn around your position on the map. If an arrow appears, you can go to its direction. The speed when you are moving to another place is not very fast, but OK -  it takes about five seconds. As I already know Street View from my computer, I realized two missing features: you can look 360° around, but not up and down. And you cannot use the zoom.

I consider Street View nice to have on my mobile, even if many users of Google Maps might still prefer the classic maps. But now that there is Street View support on the iPhone & co., it is justified that Google goes the same way for Windows Mobile. However, it still lacks the full functionality of the desktop version. So let’s hope that Google will enhance it in the next update.

More information: http://www.google.com/mobile/gmm/index.html

Welcome back to Part IIb of the SPB Traveler review by Sebastian Sell. In case you missed Part a, it can be found right here.

Unit Converter:
Screen005 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIb   SPB Traveler)
The unit converter works like the currency converter. It will convert length, temperature, area, speed, weight, volume and pressure units. The program seems to support all units in everyday use…

Meeting Planner:
Screen006 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIb   SPB Traveler)
Select a city, time and date of the appointment. You can then assign a subject and some notes, and if you tap create, SPB Traveler will create an appointment in Pocket Outlook. A simple, but useful feature.

Clothing Size:
Screen007 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIb   SPB Traveler)
Different countries, different clothing sizes. Not much to say here, it does it’s job very well with a nice interface. Supported sizes are from Europe, US, UK, Japan, US Named, JP Named, France, Mexico, Russia, Australia, inches and centimeters. You can choose betwen ‘Man’, ‘Woman’ and ‘Child’ as well as ‘Hats’, ‘Shirts’, ‘Shoes’, ‘Socks’, ‘Suits and Coats’, ‘Waists’, ‘Dresses/Blouses’, ‘Rings’ and ‘T-Shirts’.

Time Converter:
Screen008 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIb   SPB Traveler)
This gadget is very useful if you travel around the world. You can enter the time in any time zone, and the time converter shows you the time in the other time zones you select.

Tip Calculator:
Screen009 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIb   SPB Traveler)
If you are in a restaurant and you have no idea how many tips you should pay, this tool will help you. Enter the amount of your bill and the tips rate, then, the tip calculator will calculate the total sum. Optionally, you can split the bill among up to ten people.

Conclusion:

With this program full of useful information, you will be (almost) never lost if you travel around the earth. My personal rating: 5 out of 5 points. SPB Traveler is available in the TamsShop.

SPB Traveler is an application which could be helpful if you travel a lot in different countries. The program comes with a currency converter, a flight assistant, a time converter, tips calculator, a light version of SPB Weather and a unit converter. You can also find a game with questions like ‘Which country has this flag? [picture of a flag]‘ or ‘What country has the capital Nassau?’. You have multiple choices and you have to give a right answer before you proceed to the next question. There is also a time limit which can be set to 1, 3 or 5 minutes.
Screen010 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIa   SPB Traveler) Screen011 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIa   SPB Traveler)

Main application:
Screen001 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIa   SPB Traveler) Screen002 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIa   SPB Traveler) Screen003 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIa   SPB Traveler)
The main application is the most important part of SPB Traveler. It is recommended to add your hometown if you start the program for the first time. If you found your city and selected it, SPB Traveler will show the most important information you have to know about this city:

  • the current time in the selected city (useful if you travel to another time zone)
  • the weather (temperatures, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and the wind direction and speed)
  • the area code (for instance for Dortmund/Germany: +49 [<-- German area code] 231 [<-- local area code] )
  • the tips rate
  • important links, like the homepage of the city
  • a currency converter (more information later in this article)
  • a unit unit converter (more information later in this article)
  • clothing sizes (more information later in this article)
  • Sunrise and Sunset
  • location (coordinates)

You can adjust the view of the city list according to your wishes: Wide icons, narrow icons, two lines or one line. It’s also possible to show a map where the cities added are marked with a flag.

Currency Converter:
Screen004 SPB Business Pack Review (Part IIa   SPB Traveler)
The currency converter knows (nearly) all currencies of the world. The input is done with a calculator which pops up if you tap into a text box. You can convert one currency into 3 others at one stroke, but don’t forget to update the currency rates via the Internet before you convert them! Any connection type to the Internet is supported.

Tune in soon for Part IIb of the review!

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