Windows Mobile 5 synchronisation: first impressions

Abstract

The information here may be useful to anyone considering a combination of the following:

  • Vodafone 1605 (VPA compact III) (Qtek 9100)
  • Windows Mobile 5 with ActiveSync
  • Exchange 2003
  • SyncML-oriented applications and services
  • Sync Services-oriented applications and services.

My colleague
upgraded to Qtek 9100 with Windows Mobile 5

A month ago, a colleague came to me with his new Vodafone 1605 (VPA compact III) (Qtek 9100) running Windows Mobile 5.0.

For e-mail he prefers Entourage, but occasionally used Outlook 2003 on a Sony Vaio. We now have Outlook available in Parallels Desktop for Mac on his new MacBook Pro, but his preference for Entourage remains.

My wish list
upgrading from Sony Ericsson K700i

I’m considering a mobile phone upgrade for myself. On my MacBook Pro I prefer Apple Address Book, iCal and Mail, and I’d like to keep things simple when I upgrade my phone.

Available services and immediate obstacles

Exchange 2003 from one provider, but ActiveSync with Exchange is not supported in our context.

IMAP from another provider, but I can’t get Windows Mobile to recognise/respect the Mail directory that should be treated as root.

(There’s much more to it than that, but for the purposes of this post — which will focus on synchronisation — I’ll omit the detail.)

My weekend

Considering my own wish list (which is short) alongside the obstacles (not all of which are listed here) faced by the Qtek 9100 user, I did some investigation at the weekend, and learnt much about synchronisation between multiple devices/services.

As I see it, my colleague using Qtek 9100 and Office 2004 has two over-riding constraints:

  1. Windows Mobile 5, which lacks support for SyncML
  2. Entourage, which makes only limited use of Sync Services.

Last week, I wrote to him:

All things considered, I should probably recommend The Missing Sync

I shan’t withdraw that probable recommendation, but based upon my most recent discussion with him I’ll suggest some free software and online services that may better suit his requirements.

Web interface to synchronised data

First and foremost, I recommend a service such as

They’re reminiscent of .Mac, for which I allowed my subscription to lapse — I found Apple’s pricing to be excessive for my limited use of the services.

My first impressions — I have synchronised my mobile phone and e-mail software with both services, but have since made no changes to any address book — are that ZYB beta is superior to Mobical.

Other services may be preferable to ZYB, I’m still investigating. Next on my list is ScheduleWorld.

ZYB, SyncML and Windows Mobile 5

I don’t see Qtek 9100 amongst ZYB’s list of supported devices. They explain:

You need a mobile with SyncML pre-installed. Most mobiles do have this.

Essentially: Microsoft’s lack of support for SyncML leaves our Qtek 9100 user somewhat in the cold.

Third party solutions may bring you into the warm but it seems that support for Windows Mobile 5 does not necessarily equate to support for a device running Windows Mobile 5.

At this area of Diigo, expand all comments to preview my ongoing investigations. Amongst the comments, note that Qtek 9100 is not amongst the various Windows-oriented devices that are expressly supported by Funambol’s SyncML client.

That said, we might try Funambol’s client, or one of the other clients, see whether it will allow his Qtek 9100 to sync with services such as ZYB…

Mozilla Thunderbird
Mac OS X and Windows

I recommend Thunderbird in lieu of Entourage (but see below re: my longer-term recommendations towards Apple applications). My reason for this:

Tsync extends Thunderbird, synchronises its Address Book with services such as ZYB.

I for example have:

  1. my mobile phone
  2. my Thunderbird Address Book and
  3. my ZYB service

— all in sync with each other.

Apple applications

Looking ahead, I will definitely recommend Apple Address Book, iCal and Mail.

There’s a definite trend towards synchronicity for applications such as these. See for example

Plaxo

Plaxo is useful but UK carriers aren’t evident for Plaxo Mobile Plus so again, probably no sync with my colleague’s Vodafone 1605 (VPA compact III) (Qtek 9100).

Plaxo Online includes a calendar but I don’t expect this to synchronise to the Qtek 9100 user’s requirements.

I don’t see Plaxo support for Entourage.

The Missing Sync

By now, you’re probably wondering why I don’t simply recommend The Missing Sync to my colleague. Two reasons:

  1. I haven’t tried it
  2. my most recent discussion with the Qtek 9100 user led me to believe that synchronisation an online service (such as ZYB) may be of greater interest than synchronisation with Entourage.

Backups

Last week, to the Qtek 9100 user I wrote:

My overall impression of synchronisation in general (not The Missing Sync in particular) is that it’s far from foolproof.

That impression remains, so in addition to synchronisation (which, if it fails, might lead to data loss) you should maintain usable backups of at least part of the equation…

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