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Hand-Helds

Kinks Put Hold on Expenses

Entering the data on ExpensAble is easy enough to do. But things get tricky when trying to transfer that information to the desktop.

January 10, 2002|MARK A. KELLNER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Some people may enjoy tracking business trip expenses by stashing receipts in their wallet and sorting it out at home. But hand-held organizers can make the process so much easier.

Palm-compatible devices ship with a built-in expense tracking program that uploads recorded items to a desktop computer running an Excel spreadsheet. But the options for Pocket PC users have been slim.

Just out is a new version of ExpensAble from OneMind Connect. The $40 software may be the answer for many Pocket PC users. The software originally was developed under license from the creators of Quicken. Despite a couple of bugs, the program works well.

ExpensAble uses electronic envelopes into which expenses can be placed. Entering expenses is easy. Create an envelope for a trip and enter the amount advanced for expenses. That's it. Drop-down lists let users select various expenses, such as airfare. Then a second drop-down list--this one context sensitive--allows users to choose a specific airline.

Amounts can be entered with a pop-up calculator, which is handy for adding up elements of a purchase.

Once a report is complete, the envelope is uploaded to a desktop system via ActiveSync. Or, it can be sent over the Internet to a secure Web site for management if a user subscribes to an optional service. Expenses can be edited on the desktop and scans of bills and receipts can be added as well.

Getting data from the Pocket PC to the desktop, though, can be problematic.

Documentation for the synchronization process is nonexistent. It took a call to OneMind's tech support to learn what steps were necessary and in what order. Unlike many other Pocket PC applications that sync with desktop programs, the desktop ExpensAble application has to be closed during synchronization.

The desktop version of ExpensAble links to Quicken and QuickBooks 2002, providing a circuitous route from hand-held to account software.

Besides the lack of instructions on synchronizing the hand-held and desktop versions, it would be nice if ExpensAble offered an alternative exporting method so hand-held data could be used with other applications directly, either Quicken or a spreadsheet.

This is a necessary program for Pocket PC users, but it needs some enhancements.

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Mark A. Kellner is a freelance technology writer and hosts "Mark Kellner on Computers" at www.adrenalineradio.com from 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays. He can be reached at mark@kellner 2000.com.

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