Review: My DoItAll

mydoitall_ds_high.jpg You might call me a PDA junkie … no, not ‘public displays of affection’ though I have no problem smooching my wife in public regardless of how embarrassed our kids might become. I’m talking about ‘Personal Digital Assistants’. I have used an electronic system of maintaining calendar and contacts and notes for nearly twenty years now since getting a HP200LX when they first came out. Since then I have been involved in beta test programs for various PDA’s and other forms of ‘pocket computers’. Beyond just being accustomed to using an electronic system to keep myself organized, I have been evaluating and critiquing them for two decades, so the ability to transform my DS into a mini PDA was something I jumped at immediately!

Unfortunately, it turns out that My DoItAll is more of a kid-centric bunch of semi-useful applets with as many games as productivity apps. That isn’t so bad in itself, as this would be an excellent way to introduce kids to an organizational system that is easy to use and also fun. Because as most teachers would tell you and I can attest – kids are a mess when it comes to organizational skills! However, a number of technical issues and a general sense of ‘poor focus’ makes this one an easy analysis – Skip It!

There are three main areas encompassed by the fifteen apps in My DoItAll: organization, utilities, and games. I will look at each one separately. Technically the game has some fundamental problems that would make it hard to recommend regardless of the quality or completeness of the apps. First off, the transitions between apps use a sort of ‘lens closing’ effect common in games and some movies. This is fine for Animal Crossing, but when you are trying to quickly switch between your Calendar and Notes, the last thing you need is a silly effect to take an extra few seconds getting you there! Also, text entry and general selection is handled using the touch screen using a virtual keyboard, however this doesn’t work nearly as well as the default keyboard. I had frequent issues with misread taps, non-entries and so on.

The organizer consists of a calendar, notebook, and friend card collector. The friend-card collector is somewhat of an address book, but lacks adequate functionality. The calendar allows you to do basic scheduling and even share your events wirelessly with friends (who would need their own copy of the software, of course).

Utilities include some of the cooler things here, such as a periodic table, conversion utility, calculator, and world map. These are all straightforward versions with basic functionality but are all very accessible.

Surprisingly, most of the apps here are games or game-like activities. There are sound-based activities such as Rhythm Machine, Voice Changer and Sound Effects; games such as ninety-eight and crazy eights and ‘boxes of doom’; and other stuff like a dice-roller, a spinner (like in Twister) and a custom poll maker. These are all interesting novelties but nothing that will hold anyone’s attention for any significant stretch of time.

You can also customize the look and feel of the interface, and also build a personal avatar (or mini-Mii if you prefer) for your online interactions. The utilities for doing this are also fairly limited, with the same rudimentary controls and graphics found throughout.

Here is my bottom line – with a touch screen and two display screens, the Nintendo DS should be an excellent organizer. And perhaps when the DSi comes along in a few weeks it will be – but that will have nothing to do with My DoItAll. This is an utter throwaway – which is too bad because it has some potential and there is definitely an opportunity here to put better organizational skills at the fingertips of millions of elementary and middle school kids. For now, they will have to stick with their paper agendas and cell phones.

SkipIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Includes basic functionality
+ Utilities are useful

Cons:
– Not enough organizer features
– Games are too simplistic to be appealing
– Any cell phone can do this … better

Game Info:
Platform: DS
Publisher: Tomy Corporation
Developer: Rocket Studios
Release Date: 02/10/09
Genre: Lifestyle
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1-6

About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!