FileMaker just released Bento for iPad and we wanted to give it a spring. We have been using the Mac version of Bento here at PadGadget to track new iPad applications and accessories and to schedule our editorial calendar. I was eager to try out Bento for the iPad to see how it would fit into our workflow and how it could enhance the way we operate.
When you first launch Bento, you’re presented with the home screen where you can create a new database or get a guided tour of the Bento app. Being the adventurous type, I jumped right in and opted to start using Bento without reading the manual or tutorial. The iPad version of Bento follows in the footsteps of the Mac and iPhone versions and was simple to learn and easy to start using within a few minutes.
After tapping the “Start using Bento” button you’re presented with a demo database so you can start playing with Bento’s many features. One of the first things that struck me, was the beautiful “real world” themes Bento uses for your database. The demo database was presented as a leather notebook complete with leather textures, stitching and paper. You have a choice of three built-in themes; leather notebook, clipboard or a modern stone look. FileMaker’s approach of using real world materials gives Bento a very polished feel.
Bento for iPad’s themes
Creating a new database is a snap. To get going quickly, you can choose from 25 pre-designed templates covering school, work, home and community. Once you’ve selected a template you can either get to work entering your data or you can customize the fields and layout to get a look and feel you like.
Bento’s template library
Bento does a very nice job of handling a wide range of information you might want to store, including photos and movies. Adding photos from the iPad is straightforward; simply select a photo field in your database and a “Saved Photos” pop-up menu appears where you can select a photo from your iPad’s photo album.
We especially liked they way you can store e-mail and web addresses with Bento. One of my favorite features is the ability to browse a web link or send an e-mail without having to leave Bento, this is a great time saver for us here at PadGadget since we’re constantly tracking new iPad product introductions and maintaining correspondence with partners.
If you use Bento on your Mac, you’re going to love the wireless sync feature. Setting up the wireless sync is very intuitive. There is a menu option on the iPad to “Sync with a New Computer” and you follow a few easy steps and your Mac and iPad are now in sync. You can update the database copies at any time by selecting the “Sync Now” option from the iPad. Wireless sync is quick and much more convenient than having to drag out a USB cable to sync things with your Mac. We’d love to see more iPad apps follow Bento’s approach.
Bento is a great addition to the iPad and is one of the most polished apps we seen. We’ve been a long time Bento user on the Mac and Bento for iPad is the perfect compliment.
What I liked: Great way to store, track and organize your information. Slick design with a wide range of templates and themes. The application works in both landscape and portrait modes and the wireless sync features with the Mac sets the bar for data sync on the iPad.
What I didn’t like: Lacks an undo command. No export options besides wireless syncing. Syncing only works with a Mac.
To buy or not to buy: If you’re a Mac owner with an iPad and want to organize or track your data, then Bento is one of the best apps out there and definitely worth $4.99.