DataPilot Universal PRO (iPod/iPhone) review: DataPilot Universal PRO (iPod/iPhone)

DataPilot Universal PRO (iPod/iPhone)

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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When you buy a new cell phone, it's not always easy to move your contacts and calendar from your old handset to your new one. Apple's iPhone made the syncing process easier by using iTunes, but even iTunes leaves an important gap in the process--new iPhone owners still have to get the data off their old handset. Fortunately, that's where cell phone syncing software like Susteen's DataPilot Universal for iPhone comes in.


DataPilot Universal PRO (iPod/iPhone)

The Good

DataPilot offers a lot of useful functions in an intuitive interface. It syncs with Outlook, and you can open multiple functions at once.

The Bad

The capability and performance of DataPilot varies sharply by handset. Also, some functions are not available on Macs.

The Bottom Line

DataPilot is an effective method for managing content on your cell phone.

With only a few clicks, DataPilot helps you remove any contacts, calendar appointments, music, wallpaper, pictures, and movies from your old phone. Then, after you've deposited all that content on a computer for safekeeping, you can transfer them to your shiny new iPhone via iTunes. Though it involves a multistep process, it remains an easy-to-use and functional product. It's not exactly cheap either--$59.95 at Apple stores and Apple.com--but it's worth the investment if your soon-to-be-retired handset is loaded with information and media. And in any case, if you just blew $399 on an iPhone, you can afford an extra 60 bucks. The version of the DataPilot that we reviewed came with a USB cable and 10 different connectors. You also can buy a Bluetooth version of the software for $29.95, but naturally, you'll need a computer with Bluetooth to use it.

We tested the DataPilot with a Sony Ericsson W580i, which is just one on a long list of phones that the software supports. Though a Walkman phone cable is not among the 10 connectors that come in the box, you can buy extra connectors for $14.95 each. That's a bit pricey as far as we're concerned, so we just used the generic USB cable that came with our W580i. Of course, DataPilot advises against that, but we used the software without any problems. But if you would rather play by the rules, the included connectors will support a wide variety of LG, Motorola, Samsung, and Sanyo phones. Each connector bears an icon of a different animal so it's easy to tell them apart (though the dragonfly is a bit random). And if you can't find your model on the list, connectors for Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Kyocera Siemens, or RIM are available for the aforementioned $14.95 price. And one more thing, you'll need to check the compatibility list inside the box cover to see how many DataPilot functions your phone can support. For example, while the W580i will do almost everything, the Samsung SGH-D807 (if anyone still has one) will only transfer photos.

Installing DataPilot was painless. After inserting the CD, a series of onscreen prompts directed us through the process. Like other software of this type, it's important that you install the software before connecting your phone. If you do it backward, your computer won't know what to do. After connecting our W580i and installing a series of drivers, our computer recognized our phone, and we were ready to go. Though we tested DataPilot with a PC, it's compatible with Macs as well (minus a couple functions). Also, it syncs with Outlook, Outlook Express, and Palm Desktop.

The simple and attractive interface is similar to the DataPilot kit that we reviewed two years ago. The main menu is designed to resemble an image of a generic cell phone. Each of the buttons on the graphical keypad activates a different function, with the name of the function appearing on the phone's "display." Also, you can open the user guide, look for software updates, and exit the device from the main menu.

As we mentioned earlier, DataPilot will transfer contacts, calendar appointments, music, wallpaper, pictures, and movies off of your old mobile for eventual transfer to your iPhone. It's an easy process, and it's the same for all functions. So let's say you want to grab your photos: start off by pressing the "Image Editor" button on the graphical keypad. You'll then see a standard window with a number of commands at the top. Each of the applications features roughly the same intuitive interface, so there's very little learning curve. Also, we like that DataPilot lets you keep two functions open at the same time.

When you click the "read" command (under the "Communication" menu), DataPilot will connect with your phone and grab whatever it can read. Most of the content is easy to read but we noticed that it took a few minutes to find our W580i photos due to the software's various subfolders. After viewing and selecting your desired content, you'll need to save it a specific folder on your computer, which you can then find with iTunes. The last step is especially important because of the quirky way that iTunes transfers content to the iPhone. As we note in our iPhone review, the device doesn't allow you to manually drag and drop content from a folder. Instead, it transfers all content in a folder. Though only calendar appointments, music, wallpaper, pictures, and movies can be transferred to the iPhone, DataPilot also lets you transfer texts off your phone. What's more, you can use the software to compose, send, and edit text messages on your computer (but from your phone number). Shutterbugs can use the image editor to shape their shots and their videos and if you feel like a little composing, you can use DataPilot to compose your own ringtones and then transfer them back to your handset (neither of these functions are available on Macs). The last application will let you use your phone as a modem if you're using a PC that's not connected to the Internet. We weren't able to test that feature, as the W580i doesn't support it.