Review: Bento for iPad a great companion for the Mac version
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Review: Bento for iPad a great companion for the Mac version

FileMaker Inc's. Bento for iPad is a great companion app to its Mac version of the software, as well as a solid stand-alone solution. And at US$4.99, it's a great buy.

The app is based on Bento for iPhone with enhancements to make the most of the iPad screen. Bento for the iPhone and iPod touch was pretty good, but the software reaches a whole new level of usability on the bigger screen of the latest Apple device.

Bento for iPad enables users to manage contacts, track projects, plan events and more, and can be used by itself or synchronized with Bento 3 for Mac. It integrates with Apple's Safari, Mail, Address Book and Google Maps. But not, alas, the Mac OS X Calendar.

If, like you, you're already a Bento user (I use it mainly for home inventory), syncing the Mac and iPad versions is easy. The "Sync & Setup" button at the top of the iPad screen lets you connect to your desktop Mac, keeping any changes in your records synced. The iWork apps on the iPad should work so well.

You can sync with the the built-in templates. What of the hundreds of Bento templates available for the Mac? f you have Bento 3 for Mac, you can download a BTX templates and sync them to the iPad and iPhone. Cool.

It works in both portrait and landscape views and automatically switches between views as the user rotates the iPad. Rotate the iPad to landscape mode, and you can see all of your libraries on the left while working on data on the right. Rotate it to portrait mode, and your record expands to fill the screen in one of three customizable backgrounds. You can choose from a leather portfolio, a clipboard, or a sleek sheet of glass on a black background. I prefer the leather, which offers a classy pro look.

You touch the screen to edit information in choice, date and rating fields and checkboxes. A new "quick tap" lets you watch videos, view photos and send e-mails. Plus, tapping lets you expand or contract text fields. You can access web links in Bento without leaving the app, which adds an illusion of multitasking. URLs and e-mail can be viewed using the integrated browser and e-mail feature for sending e-mails from addresses in your database.

Bento for iPad features notebook, clipboard, and glass themes that you can apply to any Bento library (a library is a group of info you're tracking). It also includes 25 pre-designed, good looking and customizable templates, including event planning, time billing, recipes, classes, dieting and more. All templates are fully modifiable, so you can create own libraries to suit a particular type of task. What's more, Bento for iPad supports 15 field types including text, numbers, choice, checkbox, media, time, date, durations, currency, rating, address, phone number, email, URL and IM Account.

Bento for iPad is available (in English only) from the U.S. Apple App Store ( It will be available in other countries when iPad is available there.

-- Dennis Sellers

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