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Five Portable and Productive Apps

Here are five apps that put more productivity in your palm.

Sometimes it's a waste of time to buy a laptop when a smartphone or tablet will do. Here are alternative tech tools to consider.

Bento ($4.99)
Works on: iPhone, iPad

What it is: The portable version of FileMaker's personal database.

What it does: Manages contacts, tracks projects and plans events.

Pros: 25 customizable database templates, iTunes-style search and integration with other apps.

Cons: Probably most helpful when synced with Bento's desktop software (about $50). Some restrictions to how much you can customize the app.

Verdict: Type As will love the ability to keep all their notes and lists in one place.



Dropbox (Free for 2 GB, $9.99 A month and up for more)
Works on: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad

What it is: A virtual hard drive.

What it does: Lets you save a Word doc, photo, PDF or other file to Dropbox so you--or a colleague or client--can access it from another device.

Pros: It beats carrying a thumb drive or e-mailing stuff to yourself or clients, especially monster files.

Cons: Not all clients will want to install Dropbox, but they still can access files via a secure web portal.

Verdict: A convenient, inexpensive way to share and sync files.



Egnyte (Free)
Works on: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry

What it is: Access to your files, on the go.

What it does: Puts your Egnyte cloud-storage filing system on your mobile device. Securely and remotely gives you access to your online file storage, file sharing and backup.

Pros: Create, edit, share, delete and sync your entire file server.

Cons: Features vary by smartphone OS, and there's not yet a native app for the BlackBerry.

Verdict: If you already use your smartphone for practically everything, this is for you.



Evernote (Free)
Works on: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Palm webOS, Windows Mobile

What it is: A note-taking and archiving app: "An extension of your brain."

What it does: Captures your brilliant ideas and insights as text, audio recordings or photos and automatically syncs it all to your desktop.

Pros: Easily search through your notes by keywords, titles or tags. Evernote has multiple language support, and all notes include geo-location information for mapping and search.

Cons: If you're a visual person with an iPad, you won't be able to store photos of what strikes your entrepreneurial fancy.

Verdict: Perfect for both detail-oriented and big-picture people.



Quickoffice ($9.99 and up, based on operating system)
Works on: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Symbian, Palm webOS

What it is: A suite of word processing, spreadsheet and other office tools for smartphones and tablets.

What it does: Gives you another way to stay productive if you don't want to carry a laptop and don't need every bell and whistle of a PC-based office suite.

Pros: Good compatibility with Microsoft Office, and integrates with Dropbox.

Cons: Often crashes when trying to autosave long, formatted documents, and lacks some basic tools such as word count.

Verdict: One of the best handheld office suites out there.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the March 2011 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Five Portable and Productive Apps.

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