capsule review

Now Up-to-Date and Contact 4.0

Other Macintosh PIMs have fallen in battle, but Now Up-to-Date and Contact has survived after being rescued from near oblivion by Power On Software. The first major update since 1995 makes several compatibility changes and brings the package in line with current Mac technology. But although the package is still the best in its category, Power On Software skimped on new features, making version 4.0 a disappointment.

Somewhat Up-to-Date

Both programs have received a face-lift, adopting a more Aqua look in their tool bars and windows. You can customize their colors and background patterns, but you can't customize tool bars to suit your work style. And although the programs offer good integration with Palm handhelds, they still don't support Palm's Memo application.

The calendar views in Now Up-to-Date include new mini-calendars that show one or more upcoming months; click on a date in a mini-calendar, and it appears in the main calendar. But the long-overdue mini-calendars still need improvement. It would be useful if they highlighted dates with activities and allowed users to view preceding, as well as upcoming, months. Other missing features include event templates and, in the Year view, indicators of which days contain events. And you still can't conveniently group events and contacts into projects.

Keeping in Contact

Now Contact 4.0 offers extra fields for Internet addresses and other custom information, as well as shared keywords. Data-filtering improvements include the new AlphaBar, a row of letter buttons above the contact list; clicking on a letter filters the list down to contacts beginning with that letter. You can also narrow the contact list by typing a few letters into the new QuickFilter field. The QuickContact extension, accessible from the menu bar, now displays more information.

Grab-N-Go, a fine new feature, lets you use contextual menus to create calendar entries from selected text. For example, if you select a person's name in an e-mail message, open the contextual menu, and choose an event, Up-to-Date will create and open that event. Grab-N-Go doesn't work in all applications, but it supports Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, and most e-mail programs.

The Contact and Calendar servers have been revised to use TCP/IP as their sole networking protocol, dropping AppleTalk support. The 4.0 servers communicate faster with the clients and fix problems in the old servers. But because older clients can't connect to 4.0 servers, and 4.0 clients can't use the older servers, you have to upgrade all your users at once.

This version runs in Mac OS X's Classic mode, but the Carbonized version, 4.1, should be available by the time you read this.

Macworld's Buying Advice

Now Up-to-Date and Contact 4.0 is an improvement, but its $50 single-user upgrade price is steep when you consider that it doesn't provide much more functionality than version 3.9. If you're still using 3.6.5 or earlier, version 4.0 is clearly worth its upgrade cost. If you paid to upgrade to 3.8 or 3.9, you might want to wait for the Carbonized version and then upgrade your OS and PIM at the same time.

Not the Hardest-Working Calendar in Show Business: Now Up-to-Date's new mini-calendar is helpful, but it needs to do more--for example, indicate which days have events.
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