REVIEW: Futuredial’s SnapSync software

What: Software that syncs your mobile phone with Microsoft Outlook.
Where: Futuredial’s site (for CD shipment) or the Sanyo Store (for download)
How Much: $29.99 and also requires a USB cable for your phone (sold separately)

One of the biggest beefs I’ve had with SprintPCS over the years is their complete and total refusal to sell a phone that can sync phone books with Microsoft Outlook. It seems so silly to have the exact same list of Contacts on my home and work PCs and my iPaq, but still have to manually enter numbers into my cell phone’s list of contacts.

My friends with Nokia phones have been able to do this for years but Sprint seems content to live in the Dark Ages with its head in the sand, refusing to believe that someone might actually think that it’s convenient to have just ONE LIST of names and addresses that could be synched to multiple devices with a couple of clicks. After all, I can sync my work and home PCs by clicking the “synchronize” button in FusionOne. I can also sync my iPaq simply by putting it in its charging cradle. Why would I want all that convenience? Isn’t it more fun to enter 150 phone numbers on a cell phone by hand? And if someone gets a new work phone number, isn’t it more fun to spend more time changing it on my cell than it takes to sync it to my home (or work) PC and iPaq?

Ahem. OK. So Sprint doesn’t like Outlook. But that doesn’t mean that a third-party can’t do it.

As you probably know, I recently moved to a different state. I obviously needed a new phone number to reflect this – after all, what good is an Atlanta cell phone number if one lives in Charlotte? But I’d been having trouble with my old Samsung phone as well. The phone would randomly die on me. A new Sprint-branded “extended life” battery would last – on average – 16 hours before needing a recharge. So instead of just swapping numbers I went to my local Sprint store and upgraded to the Sanyo SCP-4900 phone. But while my new phone has a pretty color screen and can last up to 2 weeks on a single charge, this new handset had none of my phone numbers. The thought of entering all of them all over again made my skin crawl.

This is where Futuredial came to the rescue. I went to the RadioShack on Independence Boulevard (cue the “Sanford and Son” theme) and picked up the required USB cable for $19 – a $10 savings from buying it anywhere online and that’s before shipping and handing charges. I managed to find a “free” copy of their software in “the usual location”, but you can order the CD from Futuredial’s site for $29.95 (plus shipping and handling). You can also download it from the Sanyo Store for the same price. Since the software is less than 4MB to download and because it works on any of the phones from Futuredial’s compatibility list (not just those by Sanyo), I recommend that you buy it online from Sanyo.

So – how does it work? Ehhhhh… it certainly fulfilled its basic function – copying the names, phone numbers and email addresses of everyone in my Outlook address book to my virgin phone. But later attempts to “sync” the data caused problems. By default, Outlook stores names in LAST NAME, FIRST NAME format. Which makes sense, since that’s how we’ve been looking it up in the phone book for ages. Besides, I have four guys named “Chris” in my phone book – by storing them by last name, I avoid having to search through four entries to find the one I’m looking for as they all have different last names. The SnapSync software has to concatenate LAST NAME, FIRST NAME into one variable called NAME to be compatible with so many phones. But it’s not smart enough to realize when synching back to Outlook that you already have entries for these names, so it creates new ones in Outlook, not realizing that JOHN DOE and DOE, JOHN are the same person! After synching, my Outlook Contacts list doubled from 153 to 306 people. I had to manually delete every JOHN DOE entry in my Contacts while being careful to retain the DOE, JOHN contact (since it had additional information – such as mailing addresses – that I was loathe to lose). I was not pleased. I currently have a support email in with Futuredial to see if changing the display order in Outlook to FIRST NAME LAST NAME will prevent this, but after three days I’ve yet to hear from them.

As a plus, SnapSync offers backup capability. If I ever lose my phone (or for some reason lose my phone’s contacts) I can restore the list from a backup with two mouse clicks. And overall, the software was easy to install and use. I had not one second of trouble installing the drivers for my phone in Windows 2000 or Windows XP and the synching process was as smooth as buttah. But the “Contacts doubling” issue has me worried. If someone I know gets a new work or cell number, I don’t want to have to connect the phone, sync the list then delete 150+ redundant entries in Outlook. Thankfully, no one has does this to me yet and I hope that Futuredial has a fix for this before I need Snapsync again.

UPDATE: This software simply sucks. Being a beta tester for Microsoft, I couldn’t use this with Outlook 2003 until Futuredial issued a patch – several months after Outlook 2003 was released. After installing SnapStink, I’d get an error message on my machine saying that Outlook wasn’t installed – when I knew that it in fact was and that Outlook is mature enough to be not change that much from one version to another. I wonder if the SnapStink software is looking for particular directories or for the OUTLOOK.EXE file to be of a certain size… Oh well. Nuts to them. Far more troubling is the “mismatched caller ID” error I started getting after my last sync. My cell phone supports “number only” caller ID unless the number is in your phone book, in which case it displays the caller’s phonebook entry name as well. After my last use of SnapStink, the numbers were coming up correctly but with the wrong names. For example, my best friend in Atlanta was popping up on the caller ID even though my mother was calling! For other numbers, the number also was showing up on the screen even though I had an entry assigned to the number (i.e. I was getting “555-1212” instead of “Joe Schmoe 555-1212” even though I had Joe Schmoe programmed into my phonebook). It seems that the Sanyo phone assigns numbers to phonebook entries, but SnapStink doesn’t change these after doing a full erase-sync. So the phonebook entry number that was assigned to “Joe Schmoe” is changed to “Mom” by the SnapStink software. So when Joe Schmoe calls it shows up as “Mom” on the caller ID screen. Apparently a partial fix is to fully erase the phonebook on the cellphone itself then run SnapStink. An email to SnapStink support has yet to be answered 5 months later.


One Reply to “REVIEW: Futuredial’s SnapSync software”

  1. I hate it when companies charge for just backing up information. I think it should be free and therefore in my quest i found a lovely free service called zyb. ZYB allows me to securely upload my phonebook, calendar, and text messages directly from my phone… and yes it’s FREEEEEE! ZYB also lets you share your content with other people if you want….i’m glad i found ZYB y dnt u ppl try it as well and tell me what u think about it….

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