Review: Mark/Space's The Missing Sync | webOS Nation
 
 

Review: Mark/Space's The Missing Sync 41

by Robert Werlinger Mon, 18 Jan 2010 4:55 pm EST

There will continue to be a market for desktop sync software, even in the days of mobile cloud computing that are being ushered in by likes of Palm and webOS.

Count me in.  Call me paranoid, but I still use a desktop mail client on a day to day basis, primarily for archival purposes. Sure, Google and Palm both have massive server farms, and much of my important PIM data is backed up into the cloud automatically every night. The thing is, I really like having an offline backup of everything, because as we’ve seen in the last few months, some of the big players in cloud computing aren’t exactly impervious to losing our data.  And it's not like everyone want's all of their PIM data in the cloud. 

Mark/Space’s The Missing Sync is one such program that caters to the “I’d like to sync to my desktop” crowd, allowing for the synchronization of your contacts and calendars to various desktop mail clients on both the Pre and the Pixi, in addition to media like music, videos, and more. 

Installation and Setup: 

Installation

The program comes in two parts: the Missing Sync webOS app, which is downloaded from the App Catalog, and the desktop program, which is downloaded from the Mark/Space website. The initial installation and configuration process takes 10 to 15 minutes, and the process is straight forward.

Setup

After you've installed the two parts of the app, you're ready to set what gets synchronized.  Configuration options are located in corresponding tabs and yield a drop down menu; select which playlists for media sync, which folders for folder sync, etc.  Those who have used the BlackBerry Desktop Manager or any similar desktop sync program should feel at home here.

 Features and Use:

There are 8 distinct synchronization categories in The Missing Sync:

Contacts

 

This is where The Missing Sync really shines. One of my favorite features here is Proximity Sync, which is a feature that allows the Pre to automatically sync contact information via WiFi when on a preferred wireless network.  It's nice not having to toy around with the USB door every time I want to sync my contacts, and it's nice to know that I won't forget.  Pixi users aren't so lucky, as the newest webOS handset currently lacks a WiFi radio.

 

 

The program creates a new profile, which can be set as your default if you’d like all new contacts to be automatically synchronized. I did notice an oddity created by this:  through various upgrades over the years, some of my contacts have been backed up to Google and Outlook, and have subsequently made their way into my Palm Profile.  When The Missing Sync brought the contacts stored in Outlook over to my device, Synergy failed to link the duplicates, leaving me with some 216 duplicate entries that needed to be linked together by hand.

Calendar

The way Mark/Space chose to implement calendar sync is unfortunate (but I suspect unfortunately necessary given the limitations of webOS); instead of a true two-way sync of calendar data saved to The Missing Sync's profile, the program overwrites any of that calendar on the phone with whatever information your desktop mail client has, making this feature nearly useless.  A smarter (and free) alternative is a plug-in offered by Google that allows two way sync between Outlook (or your desktop email client of choice) and your Google Calendar.

Bookmarks

(Safari only on Mac, IE only on Windows): This feature, allows you to import bookmarks from your browser. It only appears to support exporting bookmarks from Internet Explorer in the Windows version, so Firefox/Opera/Netscape 2.0 users will have to go through the process of exporting your calendars to IE, and then to your device.  

Folder Sync

A smart feature enabling you to easily transfer PDF’s, Word documents and more without having to manually perform a drag and drop to and from the USB drive. This feature will be made infinitely more useful when proper document editing software finally starts to make its way to webOS (we’re looking at you, Docs To Go).  Configuration is simple, simply set which  folder (or a series of folders) you want to automatically sync its contents when you connect your webOS device to your computer.

Picture Sync

Like Folder Sync, allows configuration of both individual files and folders to sync automatically over USB.

Video Sync

Video Sync allows you to drag and drop files for transfer to your phone, and will convert video files that are not compatible with the media player in webOS to ones that are.  The feature works well, at least in theory.  I was unable to actually transfer or re-encode any files for transfer in my testing, getting only a series of non-descript error messages. 

 

Music Sync:  

The music sync feature works as it does in other programs of this type. You select the playlists you’ve created in your music program of choice (either Windows Media Player or iTunes) and sync away. 

Ringtone Sync

The Missing Sync comes preloaded with 12 ringtones that aren't terrible, and can synchronize them directly to the ringtone directory on the phone.  Unlike GoGadget, The Missing Sync does not come with a waveform editor, making this feature rather redundant as you can just as easily select music from the library on the phone for use as a ring tone.

Those looking to increase the utility of this feature, can use Audacity, a free and cross platform sound editor that allows you to chop songs up to your hearts desire to create ringtones.

Conclusion

Having a program that automatically backs contacts up at set intervals over WiFi so I don't have to mess around with cables or worry about forgetting to sync almost justifies the $39.95 price tag. If Mark/Space sold a version of The Missing Sync that just synchronized contacts and calendars, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat.  

As it stands, the problematic calendar sync, coupled with the suite of media sync options that aren't much better both in terms of elegance and than the likes of DoubleTwist and MediaMonkey (and sometimes even iTunes), make The Missing Sync a tough sell and difficult to recommend to anyone other than the most ardent desktop-sync only type of user. Then again, if you're that person (or you find an all-in-one sync app compelling), The Missing Sync does the job.

 

Pros

WiFi sync of contacts is brilliant

Cons

Calendar doesn't sync so much as re-write
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