Friday, May 1, 1998

Chronos vs. PilotClock

PRODUCT SHOOT-OUT

By Calvin O. Parker

Chronos and PilotClock are two applications for the PalmPilot that perform similar functions. Chronos is a shareware application written by Andrew Ball, and PilotClock is a commercial application written by the folks at Little Wing Software. Each of these applications provide basic clock, stopwatch, and timer functions. PilotClock adds to this the ability to set multiple alarms. Which one is best? When you finish reading this article, you should be able to answer that question yourself.

The auto-off feature

Each application approaches the problem of when to use the built-in "auto-off" feature of the PalmPilot differently. While both allow you to turn this feature off, effectively "locking" your PalmPilot on, PilotClock actually locks the PalmPilot on when using the stopwatch or timer functions. Chronos does not, but because of it the auto-off can affect each function's accuracy. For specific details, see the section below dealing with each feature.

The clock screen

Each application has a clock screen that shows you the day of the week, the date, and the time. In addition, the current battery voltage is displayed, as well as a world time. See Figures A and B for a comparison of each screen. Also note that Chronos, shown in Figure A, will return you to the last screen you were using in the application, PilotClock, as shown in Figure B, always returns you to the clock screen.

FIGURE A

The Clock screen in Chronos is similar to the one for PilotClock. FIGURE B

PilotClock shows the next scheduled alarm time on its clock screen.

Chronos has 30 time zones defined and allows you to choose from a drop-down list on the main clock screen the one to use as your World Time. PilotClock, on the other hand, allows you to choose from 37 time zones, selectable from the Preferences window.

With PilotClock, you can quickly select which time zone is shown on the main display, either the home time or world time. With Chronos, to do this requires you switch the actual Home time zone (selectable in Preferences).

Because PilotClock includes the ability to set multiple alarms, its main clock display also shows the next scheduled alarm.

Chronos includes the ability to automatically reset your clock (the actual system clock) forward and backward for daylight savings time. The exact dates are pre-entered, but can be reset in the Preferences screen.

I really have no preference based on the clock screen, as both applications provide similar basic functionality . I like Chronos' ability to automatically set the time for me at a daylight savings shift, but I think I'd prefer an option to turn this off (or perhaps just give me a little reminder when the time comes to change it).