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Electric Pocket BugMe Notepad review: Electric Pocket BugMe Notepad

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The Good Simple installation; easy to use; reminder alarms; supports own handwriting; not limited to Graffiti.

The Bad No support for voice memos.

The Bottom Line Stop scribbling your notes on napkins and receipts, and get your thoughts organized on your Palm PDA with the simple-to-use BugMe Notepad.

Please visit developer's Web site for pricing and download information.

7.7 Overall

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Is your desk a sea of yellow sticky notes? Take Ryan to lacrosse practice. Finish report by Wednesday. Call repairperson. Maybe this system works for you, but we have a better and neater alternative. Electric Pocket's BugMe Notepad for Palm OS lets you scribble handwritten notes and sketches, then set up reminders as deadlines approach, all in one convenient location: your Palm handheld or Treo. Working with Palm OS 5.0 and later (which includes the various Treo devices), this $19.95 program is simple to use and particularly good for those who need to jot down their ideas and thoughts while on the go.

Installation is a snap; simply download the program and perform a HotSync operation between your computer and your Palm device. We used the PalmOne Zire 72 for our tests, and everything installed without a hitch. The program's interface is simple, with two main screens: Note and List. From the Note page, there are seven tools (File, New Note, Delete Note, Import Photo, Clip Art, Color and Pen, and Drawing Tools) to get you started. And as the name would imply, the List view displays an overview list of all your current notes sorted by category (Unfiled, Business, and Personal; you can also edit categories). Simply tapping a thumbnail will open up the full note. From List, you can also access all your Favorites. If there's a particular note you use frequently, "weekly status meeting," for example, you can save it as a Favorite, then reuse.

Creating a note is easy; just click the New Note icon. But we appreciate the little details the most. You have a variety of writing tools at your disposal, such as a pen, a line tool, an eraser, and a circle outline-drawing tool. Customization features are plentiful, with different ink colors, background fills, font sizes, and your choice of 24 pieces of clip art. You can also perk up your notes by importing your own photos or images from a memory card and using the picture as a background. We would have liked the application to support the ability to attach voice memos. To set a reminder alarm, simply click the alarm clock icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. From there, you can establish the date and the time, as well as set repeat reminders. You can also pick from a number of sounds, from your standard alarm to a belch if you so desire. One final feature we like is the lock function, which prevents a note from being changed or deleted.

We wrote numerous notes and set up various reminders throughout our test period. It was refreshing to be able to write notes in our own handwriting and not have to struggle with the quirks of Graffiti, and the alerts were always reliable. Sketching and doodling were amusing enough, but if you're a serious artist, designer, or the like, you should stick to a traditional sketchbook and pencil; BugMe isn't able to accommodate some of the fine details you'd want to include in your sketches.

BugMe is simple to use, but if you happen to run into any snags, there are several tech-support options. Electric Pocket's Web site offers a full downloadable user guide and a FAQ section. If these resources fail to answer your questions, you can send an e-mail query, which has a promised turnaround time of 24 hours.

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