That's where cell phone syncing software such as Susteen's DataPilot Universal Kit come in. Not only does it allow you to manage much of the data on your cell phone, it also helps you sync that data with a PC or a Mac. While we found DataPilot useful overall, we were disappointed that not all the functions worked with every phone. Though it's an improvement over Mobile Action's Handset Manager 9.0, DataPilot isn't worth the $79.95 price tag ($99.95 for the Mac version), despite its glossy and accessible interface.
We tested the DataPilot with the Sony Ericsson S710a. Since we had the Universal Kit, it came with USB connectors for most major phone models, including Sony Ericsson, Sanyo, Samsung, LG, Nokia, and Motorola. Alternatively, if you have an Audiovox, Kyocera, or Siemens phone or you don't need so many connectors, Susteen sells individual data kits for $59.95 each. Installing the software via the CD was mostly easy. We were guided through an informative step-by-step process, but the software couldn't identify our phone automatically. For some reason, the S710a is one of few phones that you have to set up manually--not a huge deal but worth mentioning.
Once we were up and running, we were pleased with the interface. The main menu is designed to resemble an image of a generic cell phone. Each of the buttons on the graphical keypad activates a different function, with the name of the function appearing on the phone's "display." Also, you can open the user guide, look for software updates, and exit the device from the main menu. A big bonus was that DataPilot, unlike Handset Manager, lets you keep two functions open at the same time.
The phone book feature allows you to download contacts from your mobile to your computer. You can then edit them or store them for safekeeping. Editing current contacts or creating new entries was much easier with a computer keyboard than with a phone keypad, but we ran into a snag when we tried to upload contacts back to our cell phone. While there's an option for uploading or downloading selected contacts only, we weren't able to use it with the S710a. As a result, we had to transfer all our contacts back and forth on each try, which took time. That's not a problem in itself, but since a phone book upload automatically overwrites any data on your phone, you'll need to be careful you don't erase anything permanently. On the upside, DataPilot can interface with Outlook, Outlook Express, and Palm Desktop.