Review: Pocket Express

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Functionality
In our last review, we hinted that an RSS reading feature would be nice, and after spending plenty of time with Viigo, there’s no reason to switch to Pocket Express’ News feature. With Viigo, you can customize your feeds, and the number of listings is limited only by the RSS itself, while on Pocket express you’re cut off at 10 stories and the bundled news channels.

Pocket Express 4The Sports channel was pretty impressive. It had game times, scores, standings, the whole shebang. Given I don’t watch sports much, this channel had what looked like the big info any hockey/basketball/football/soccer/whatever hooligan would want on short notice. The Weather channel is a bit of a throwaway – BlackBerry has an integrated weather channel that already does the trick. If you were looking for the chance of precipitation for the day, you could either click four times (to get into Pocket Express then the weather, then the city, then the day) or you could click the bundled Weather Network feature twice (once if it’s on your home screen) for the same info. Pocket Express’ bonus is a morning, afternoon, evening and night weather breakdown, along with some extra details like humidity and wind direction.

Pocket Express 3 Handmark’s newest addition, the Travel channel, offers some good, free functionality to users that would otherwise cost you a pretty penny. You can check flight status, schedules, search for hotels, and even convert currency. While this might not be something you’d need to use every day, the occasional traveler could get some use out of it. Our previous stance on Pocket Express’ stock channel holds true: good, simple, at-a-glance information, but probably not enough to manage a full-bodied portfolio. One of the big pitfalls is the need to manually update for current information, which is the case for most of the news feeds throughout Pocket Express. At very best, you can get auto-updates every 4 hours, which is less than ideal.

Pocket Express 8Maps are working in Canada now, so that’s one less complaint, but the Yellow Pages 411 search and theatre showtimes are still on the rocks. The White Pages search works, but doesn’t recognize location proximity when sorting results. It does, however, provide a quick menu link to get directions to or from the listing and your current location. When it comes to choosing which LBS solution to use, BlackBerry Maps on my 8800 does directions fine, and has an easier time panning and tracking than Pocket Express’ maps, although it lacks the 411 integration.

We musn’t forget the newly-added MobileCierge. This service sets Pocket Express apart from alternative software out there. With an Elite subscription, you get a link that will put you in contact with one of Handmark’s personal assistants, and they can help you with anything ranging from medical emergencies, to last-minute restaurant reservations.