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SplashTravel Professional Edition

Thu Jul 19, 2007 - 9:58 AM EDT - By Jay Gross


Pack your Treo and your trousers, and don’t forget those references on clothing sizes and other parameters of travel in strange lands. Like Colorado.

SplashData’s updated SplashTravel Professional Edition fills in electronically, on your Treo, so you can leave those ten-pound paper references at home and not miss them. Indeed, the grandly global SplashTravel does more, lots more, and it’s instantly updatable if you can hook up to the Internet from wherever you are.

International travel, outside of the comfort zone of the border towns of Canada and Mexico, can be a challenge. For one thing, you’ll find that doing business in the native currencies requires major math. For example, expense logs for a business trip that stops in several countries might require some quality time with a sophisticated spreadsheet. There’s breakfast in Brooklyn, lunch in Leicester, dinner in Düsseldorf, tipping in Taipei, Thai pay in Peking, and coffee in Cancun. Different currencies, all, and all at various exchange rates.

Then there’s shopping. You do plan to shop? A T-shirt from the Montmartre, shoes from Milan, and new outfits from the boutiques of de Paris - to replace the stuff in the suitcase the airline lost. But what sizes?

SplashTravel has all this figured out, so stroll with confidence into those designer boutiques, get the program’s Clothing Sizes screen in front of you and shop till your drop. Or until your plastic maxes out, whichever comes first.


SplashTravel Pro has but a single menu of its fifteen applications, arranged in a row of icons at the bottom of the screen. Some of the icons pull up submenus of more icons. There’s no text associated with any of the icons, and no top-of-screen pulldown menus or help screens.

This is no problem after you’ve explored for a while and learned what the icons do, but it could be a minor problem at first. The clock menu (second from left), for example, offers a collection of time-related features, including alarms. You can set up to nine alarms and have them repeat in a variety of ways, like Monday through Friday, weekends only, or not at all. Very useful. But which one of the icons does this? And which one brings up the world clock with the daytime/nighttime indicator?

On the Treo’s screen, the icons are hard to see, and I often forget which goes to what. A duplicate set of menus that pull down from the top of the screen in Treo standard fashion would be useful for some or all of the items.

The app has no in-Treo help for any of these applications, so you’re on your own to explore. There’s a rudimentary documentation at this link on www.splashdata.com.

The menus

One by one, in order from left to right, here’s what the applications do:

  • Home. This neat display shows time and weather for your “home” location – which you select with the Settings menu (far right button icon) - plus the same for another location of your choice, which is where you are currently, if that’s different. You can update the weather information and obtain a forecast for up to a week by tapping the weather area. The clock display is big enough to see, a ginormous, analog-looking version complete with a second hand. If only it ticked and chimed.

  • World Clock. This displays a world map in the top half of the screen. Tap and hold while moving the stylus, and cities flows by. Fast. If by chance you see your destination, let go and the app tells you the country’s capital. Big deal. You can also tell whether it’s night or day there, or turn that display off with the earth icon. A scrolling pulldown menu lets you choose a city in a more reliable manner. I found it rather difficult to get Paris (France) to appear, as the tiny map squeezes everything so close. I don’t see much use for this app, since its day/night information is displayed on the Home screen – but maybe you don’t know your capitals.

  • Clocks: Calendar. This one is only a display. It doesn’t keep track of appointments, just shows a calendar in the usual way. Tap a date and it’ll display which week and day of the year you’ve selected. Maybe this has some usefulness to high-powered business people who have to worry about which week of sales some event happens in, but I find it superfluous. The Treo’s native Calendar app is better and more functional, though not as pretty.

  • Clocks: Alarms. SplashTravel Pro offers up to nine possibilities for alarms, each with a variety of configuration options. These are quite useful whether you’re sightseeing in Sweden or chillin’ out at home. They don’t depend on web connectivity, either.

  • Clocks: Time Calculator. This one simply tells you the time in your “home” location, plus five other cities that you can choose. Nice. Change the time to be calculated by tapping the clock display in the top right corner of the screen. The app answers the question: “If in (choose city) it’s (choose time), it’s (display times) in these cities of your choice.”

  • Clocks: Big Time Table. You get one less city with this screen, but the numeric clock is live, and counts seconds. Though it looks similar, it’s unaffected by the times you enter in the clock calculator.

  • Conversions: Clothing. The size nomenclature we apply in the United States is nowhere near global, so this app is a great help for shopping in foreign lands. A pulldown menu lets you change the display from Men’s to Women’s to Children’s sizes. Shirt (and other) sizes stop short of big and tall, however, and I’ve always been one of those.
  • Conversions: Units of Measure. The Treo contains great units conversions with its extra, hidden calculators, but this SplashTravel app converts many more types of measurements, including yards, leagues, furlongs, chains, rods, nautical miles, and pyad, plus a bunch of others that I have no idea what are - and that’s just for distance/length. It also handles area, temperature, speed, volume, time, circular measure (like degrees), power (like kilowatts), and weight, many of which include exotic units you find worldwide.

  • Conversions: Currency. Ahhh, this is the one that most impresses me. Choose up to four currencies in the top box, and then any entry in one of them calculates the equivalent other currencies. The whole thing depends on an internet connection – you did opt for the “unlimited” data plan? – and updates quickly when you want. To enter amounts, you can type directly into the little boxes or tap the blue and pink buttons below. Too bad the pink buttons don’t include simple arithmetic functions, though you can total a series of amounts by tapping the big orange-backed arrow. This action adds the amounts to a running total in the boxes on the right. The little green icons on the right side transfer the total in the corresponding currency to the Expenses app, discussed shortly. The Reset button clears all. You can even enter your own currency and exchange rate – for those occasional excursions to foreign planets.

  • Weather. The universal obsession, weather, has a button of its own, where you can watch the local conditions in a screen full of locations that you choose. So, put your itinerary destinations into the screen and keep track of whether to take your umbrella. This sort of information is particularly helpful if you’re going to pilot your sailboat there, instead of taking an airline.

  • Flight schedules. Frequent or even infrequent flyers know the vagaries of today’s airports. Actually, I dislike airports as much as I dislike flying. Put your choice of locations into the program – easy to do with its city and airport picker – and when you hit the “Update” button the displayed current gate and delay information will let you agonize over issues that are totally beyond your control long before you have to face them. Such is life in the fast lane.

  • Expenses. We’re all the way over to the next-from-last icon on the right, and this topmost sub-icon brings up one of the program’s most useful features. It lets you organize and total up your travel expenditures in a boatload of currencies and export them to your computer in a format that’s palatable to your favorite spreadsheet. Don’t forget to use the categories selector. You can edit the category names and make more of them if you need – say if your company insists on a breakdown by food, lodging, entertainment, etc., or by day.
  • To-Do. Same icon, second choice. Your Treo has this built in, so I don’t know why SplashData decided to do it again. The Treo’s Tasks app also permits beaming the tasks or even a whole category of them to other devices. SplashTravel does not. As you check off the To-Do items, you can have them gray out at the bottom of the list, or just go away.

  • Tip calculator and check splitter. Calculating the tip for a bad server is easy. For good service, well, how many Euros, Yen, or Pesos you leave is a reasonable percentage of the amount of the check divided by the number of diners times the phase of the moon - a complicated matter, in other words. SplashTravel Pro offers a specialized calculator for just such occasions. You enter the tax (VAT or whatever), the percentage you’d like to tip, and the number of diners. Tap the amount of the check on the blue and pink buttons, and the total, tip and per-person amounts appear. You can have the tip tallied before or after the tax is applied.

  • World data. With this neat utility, you can figure out what city an area code is in, look up the country code for dialing a phone number, and even find out what domain the country normally uses (like .com, .ca, .fr, or .de). So, if you’re in Sweden, the country code is 46, and the domains normally end in .se. To look up by code or domain, tap the titles to re-sort the list. The USA tab looks up cities by telephone area codes (or vice versa) and displays the Postal Service’s official two-letter codes for the states. There are no Canadian or Mexican tabs. There should be.

  • Packing Checklist. This one’s sub-icon looks like a suitcase. It lets you pick out a specialized list of essentials to pack for your trip. The categories cover everything you could name, and if you take along all that stuff, I hope you’re traveling in a freighter. But whatever else you travel with, don’t forget your Treo!

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