Before a company writes a new software program, it's always a good idea to study the competition to see what works. Unfortunately, the makers of RedBox Organizer either didn't do this exercise or didn't implement the results. This personal information manager (PIM) is loaded with useful modules, such as Expenses and Reports, but it ignores some PIM basics, such as an extensive contact search capability. Hopefully, RedBox will improve in the next version. Until then, go for FranklinCovey. Before a company writes a new software program, it's always a good idea to study the competition to see what works. Unfortunately, the makers of RedBox Organizer either didn't do this exercise or didn't implement the results. This personal information manager (PIM) is loaded with useful modules, such as Expenses and Reports, but it ignores some PIM basics, such as an extensive contact search capability. Hopefully, RedBox will improve in the next version. Until then, go for FranklinCovey.
Once you install RedBox Organizer, a sample user profile opens automatically. Here, you familiarize yourself with the product's various features. Once you're comfortable with RedBox, you can set up a new user file for your own data and create up to five new users. Make sure you examine this sample file thoroughly before you strike out on your own, though, lest you make a mistake that you can't fix. For example, because the Address Book module by default contains only two fields--name and telephone--if you want more, such as address and e-mail address, you'll need to add them before you input any data. Otherwise, you'll have to create a new user profile and start again.
RedBox resembles a complete PIM with a standard layout and a range of features. Under the drop-down menu lie two rows of buttons. The first lists all of the modules: Reminder, Calendar, To-Do, Planner, Address, Notes, Expenses, Anniversary, Link Manager, Reports, and Globe, which shows the current time in several time zones. The second, smaller row includes icons that offer several functions, such as adding a new entry, linking two entries, and printing.
The Notes feature works cleanly, allowing you to import or export text files into a sticky-pad-like note and organize them by subject into different folders. However, you can't move a note from one folder to another. The Link feature lets you connect any two items in the PIM. For example, you can link a contact name to a calendar entry. The Link Manager then categorizes all of your links in one place so that you can, for example, see all of the items associated with a single project. RedBox Background, which sits in your Windows Taskbar, allows you to input addresses, notes, tasks, and other data quickly and easily without having to open the program itself.
Ready for prime time?
Incredibly, RedBox omits some significant PIM tools. For example, in the Address Book, you can sort entries by the name, address, and phone fields but not by the company field, which is an important feature for anyone who needs to find a business contact. Unlike Info Select and FranklinCovey Planning Software, RedBox doesn't synchronize with any PDAs. And several linguistic quirks baffle us; for example, once you've defined your daily working hours, you can't create an appointment outside those hours unless you hit a button that's called, for some reason, Graph.
In addition, RedBox ignores some basic Windows conventions. For example, the file menu has no cut function, so the only way to delete an entry is to drop it into the trash can icon at the bottom left of the screen. Worse, there's no right-click support.
InKline Global's Web site provides some support information for RedBox, including a basic FAQ and an e-mail link for further support. We received an answer to a test question within 24 hours. There is no evidence of a phone number, which would have been handy when, after uninstalling the product, we found that there were still lines of code left in our INI file; these had to be expunged manually.
At first glance, RedBox offers an interesting interface and a group of useful PIM tools. However, its creators should take a course in Windows interface design before putting version 5.0 on the market.