Two Ways to Back Up a Cell Phone Book
If your cell phone doubles as your contact manager, having a backup copy of your stored names and numbers is great insurance for the day you either lose the phone or want to move your phone book to a new handset. But most conventional handsets don't come with either the hardware or the software you need to synchronize the built-in phone book to a PC. I tried out shipping versions of two packages that do the job-- SnapSync 1.3 by FutureDial and Intellisync Phone Edition--and came away generally pleased with the results.
Both of these products require the use of a special, phone-specific USB cable that connects your handset to the PC--and this can be a real showstopper, as I learned when I tried to sync my husband's Samsung SPH-A500 phone book using SnapSync 1.3 and FutureDial's $30 cable (which has an additional connector to let you use your cell phone as a laptop modem). When nothing worked, I called tech support only to learn that the firmware version on this particular phone wouldn't support synchronization software--something FutureDial and Intellisync tell you only on their respective Web sites. A free firmware upgrade at a Sprint store ended up destroying the phone and all data on it. Sprint (which replaced the phone) and FutureDial say my experience is unusual, but, at the very least, it suggests proceeding with some caution.
Sync Plus Scan
The good news: With the replacement phone, which had the necessary up-to-date firmware, the synchronization of the phone data (entered into the phone by hand after the fiasco) to SnapSync's desktop app went smoothly. Once you've copied the numbers, the desktop software lets you choose which ones you'd like to sync with Outlook and vice versa--a useful feature for those whose Outlook contacts outnumber the amount of entries their phone supports.
You can purchase SnapSync alone for $30, but you might consider paying $129 to get it bundled with FutureDial's SnapScan business card scanner and software. That's a good price for a very basic card scanner that lacks the advanced features of Corex's $200 CardScan, such as batch processing. Unfortunately, SnapScan uses a different desktop address book than SnapSync (but both can transfer contacts to Outlook).
SnapSync supports more than 160 phone models, compared with the 35 that Intellisync Phone Edition currently supports. The $35 Phone Edition worked right off the bat with the replacement Samsung SPH-A500 and a $35 cable (available on Intellisync's Web site). But oddly enough, given that Intellisync is known for its PDA-syncing software that supports multiple contact managers, the version of Phone Edition I looked at works only with various versions of Microsoft Outlook (the company says support for other address-book applications such as Lotus Notes is on the way, which will make Phone Edition more worthwhile). You can select the Outlook contacts you wish to sync via a Record Chooser, or you can use filters.
In my tests, I found the Intellisync cable prone to slipping off my phone, but otherwise the product worked as advertised. So did SnapSync, though--and with its cable, it costs $10 less than Phone Edition and its cable.
Intellisync Phone Edition
Competent Outlook cell phone backup; supports fewer phones.
Price when reviewed: $35 ($35 cable required)
Current prices (if available)
FutureDial SnapSync 1.3
Easy-to-use Outlook-compatible syncing; supports many models.
Price when reviewed: $30 ($30 cable required)
Current prices (if available)