Backup-Pal review: Backup-Pal


Kent German

Kent German

Senior Managing Editor / Features

Kent is a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and has worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog, or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).

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Backing up a cell phone's contacts is probably something no one thinks of doing until it's too late. When the phone is lost--or dies a watery death in a swimming pool--it can be a major pain to gather the contacts again and input them in a new handset. Fortunately, a SIM card reader can help guard against such mishaps. However, CDMA phone owners will find that a card reader won't do them a lot of good. So for those SIM-less consumers, the Backup-Pal is a comparable choice.



The Good

The Backup-Pal has a simple, easy-to-use design. It does what it promises it will do.

The Bad

The Backup-Pal can only store the contacts of one phone at a time.

The Bottom Line

The Backup-Pal offers a convenient and user-friendly way to back up your cell phone contacts.

Connecting Backup-Pal to a phone lets users save contacts for safekeeping, and then transfer them back to a phone if the need arises. It's functional and user-friendly, and it worked just as it promised. It's compatible with both GSM and CDMA handsets; however, at the time of this writing it supports only certain Motorola, Samsung, and Nokia models. The manufacturer, Advanced Wireless Solutions, says it will support more handsets in the future, but the company hasn't yet announced specifics. The Backup-Pal is $49.95 and extra phone adapters are $19.95 each. That's more expensive than many SIM card readers, but it's comparable to many brands of cell phone syncing software.

The Backup-Pal consists of just two parts: the hockey puck-shaped storage unit and the connecting cable. The storage unit is compact (2.7 inches diameter, 1 inch high) and lightweight (2.75 ounces). Users will have no problem carrying it in a bag or stashing it in a drawer. What's more, the plastic case and plain gray color scheme makes it simple, no-nonsense design.

To start the backup process, connect the phone cable to the storage unit. Three AA batteries are needed; they snap into a compartment on the back. Next, select the correct phone adapter for the handset model, then snap it onto the end of the phone cable. We tested the Backup-Pal with a Motorola Razr V3. However, as we mentioned, the Backup-Pal is compatible not only with several Motorola handsets but also a selection of Nokia and Samsung models.

Once we were all set, we connected our Razr V3 to the phone cable and pressed the large orange "backup" button. In just a few seconds, the Backup-Pal read our contacts and transferred them to the storage unit. We had just a few contacts to transfer in our test, but according to Advanced Wireless Solutions, Backup-Pal can hold up to 4,000 contacts. An indicator shows the progress of the transfer: orange indicates the transfer is in progress, green indicates the process is completed, and red indicates there's a problem.

When users are ready to transfer the contacts back to a phone, the process is equally as simple. After connecting our handset, press the dark gray "restore to phone" button. Backup-Pal zapped our digits back to the Razr. The contacts came back in full, in the correct order, and with all the necessary numbers. To make things interesting, we deleted all the data off the phone before we made the transfer.

One restriction of the Backup-Pal is that it can store the contacts of only one phone at a time. If a second handset is connected, and a backup performed, the first set of contacts will be overwritten with the new information. That's not a huge deal, but it's certainly a limitation we would like to see corrected in the future. On the other hand, we like that we can delete the contacts. There's a tiny button for doing so right on the front of the storage unit. Fortunately, it's recessed so users won't press it accidentally.