Mac Daniel's Advice

Entourage or Palm Desktop on OS X?

Evan Kleiman - 2002.04.17

With today's always high-paced lifestyles, people are trying to find a way to manage all of their contacts, appointments, et cetera. They do this through any means necessary - sticky notes, backs of napkins, and other items.

One of the most popular ways to manage your information is with a PIM (personal information manager) for your computer. With it you can link your Palm or virtually any other computer-aware PDA (personal digital assistant), store your contacts, keep your appointments, and track virtually anything else you can think of. This is a very popular niche.

Which is the best application for you to choose as your own PIM?

While there are many options to choose from, the only two really big ones available for Mac OS X are Microsoft Entourage V.x and Palm Desktop 4.0 for X, and I'll be looking at the two programs based on several categories: speed, Price, features, interface/customizability, compatibility with the Palm and other applications, and overall quality.

Speed

Most new Microsoft applications are slow, and Entourage X is no exception. Especially on my Blue and White G3/350, it seems to take forever to load - and even longer for something to respond once you click a button, which is can grow quite annoying for frequent users of the program.

Palm Desktop, on the other hand, seems to load much faster than its Microsoft counterpart and is generally perkier and more responsive in everyday use.

Price

This one is probably the easiest win of all for Palm Desktop: It's free, whether you have a Palm or not. Entourage, however, is part of the rather expensive (generally over US$400) Microsoft Office Suite.

Features

Both programs have such features as multiple users, a calendar with a complete date book, and a contact management system. However, Entourage seems to shine much brighter in this category than the Palm Desktop.

Entourage boasts a full-featured email client and a much better address book than Palm Desktop offers.

Interface/Customizability

With Aqua's new interface, many of today's higher-end software developers have been encouraged to create programs that are fully compatible with the interface standards for OS X. However, Palm seemed to pretty much totally miss the boat on this one.

While their user interface is totally customizable with one of their many skins (Red Chili Pepper are my fave), Palm's default interface and many other things don't really seem to match very well with Aqua.

On the plus side for Palm Desktop, I like their button layout better. When you first start Entourage, you are pretty much unable to tell which button does what, since they're not very cleanly labeled. Unless you're patient enough to find out what there are via the tool-tips, you're pretty much left to figure out where the address book is - the icon with the two people on it or the thing that looks like an address book. Surprisingly, it is not the later.

But once you're over the initial confusion of Entourage X, you shouldn't have much trouble using it, so I'm going to have to go with Entourage in this category, since it is much cleaner for everyday use, albeit un-customizable.

Compatibility

If you are a regular Palm user, Palm Desktop is the obvious choice, since it offers more compatibility with its built in Hot Sync technology. However, since both applications offer the ability to behave well with other programs (i.e., through the importing/exporting data), if you're not using a Palm-compatible device, the decision is a bit harder.

Microsoft once again comes through with totally incompatible products; Entourage is unable to import anything, even when I actually clicked on the file I wanted in its "import" box. Palm Desktop went through this task flawlessly.

Overall Quality

While Entourage has many nice features, such as its built in date reminder, unless you absolutely need a built-in email client or love their Aqua interface, save your money and go with Palm Desktop. Your wallet (and anti-Microsoft conscience) will thank you.

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