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Epocware Handy Expense: Controlling The Cash Print E-mail
Written by SymbianOne   
Monday, 24 July 2006
There is nothing worse than returning from a long trip to the nightmare of sorting out expenses. Epocware Handy Expense could be the answer to banishing one aspect of the homecoming blues. Richard Bloor takes a look at this useful business application.

Handy Expense is designed to allow basic details of expenses to be recorded quickly. The idea is simple, as an expense is incurred it is recorded in Handy Expense and at the end of a trip these expense records can be exported to complete an expenses report or claim.

The interface to Handy Expanse is a simple one, just a list of expenses.

Each expense is record with its date, a type, the amount, the currency, how the payment was made, a category and an optional note.

While the interface is simple it is not a straightforward as it could be. Once the first expense has been recorded, Handy Expense assumes that the most likely action the user will want to perform is to edit an existing expense. It would seem that the most common task would actually be to record a new expense. Recording a new expense is a three click operation (Options -> New Expenses -> Select) rather than the two click operation it could have been if New Expense was the first Options item. Clearly editing is an important capability, but one less likely to require the quickest access.

When a expense is recorded the type, currency, payment method and category are carried forward as the default for the next transaction. This works well, for example, on arriving in a new country when it is most likely that all expenses will be in local currency until you leave.

The preference for the display list are minimal, with options to set the position of the currency tag (before or after the value) and to determine the list's sort order (ascending or descending date order).

Handy expense comes with a useful set of expense types and payment methods.

The list of currencies is short (just dollars, pounds and euros) but adequate, no doubt, for most users. All the type items can be edited to rename, remove, or add items.

Once expenses have been recorded Handy Expense offer two "reports" and a list export option.

The first report is a total display that shows the total expenses for each currency used.

The second report provides options to summaries expenses by type, payment methods or category over a period (which defaults to the period expenses in Handy Expanse have been recorded over).

The report itself is basic, just a simple text list of the "by" items, with a subtotal for each currency and a total at the end of the page. It is not exactly easy to read and a little more sophistication it tabulating the report would not go amiss.

To enable the recorded expenses to be used in external reports, Handy Expense has an export option, which exports the entire list as a CSV file. As its name suggests the export function simply does that, it stores the list on the device's memory or memory card.

To get the exported file to a PC it has to be sent from file manager or copied to the PC using PC Suite or the device's mass storage function. A "Send As" option, to allow the export to be sent directly to a PC or message recipient, would be a significant improvement.

Handy Expense is not a mass market application, which probably explains the "no frills" functionality at what is not a budget application price, Handy Expense costs around $ 14.95 US. The application certainly does what it sets out to do, record and report expenses. However it could be more functional, the clicks required to add a new expenses could be reduced, the report could be tabulated a little better and a send as feature would improve exporting. Also, as the application is designed to record multiple currencies, a simple exchange function, to allow expenses to be reported in the "home" currency, would seem a relatively straightforward, but very handy, addition. As Handy Expense is under active development by Epocware there is every chance that some of these issues will be addressed in future releases.

Despite the criticism Handy Expense is effective at its job and a useful tool to have while traveling and its cost easily justified by the convenience of a handy record of expenses. Handy Expense is available for most S60 and UIQ devices, including UIQ 3. Certainly if you travel with a Symbian smartphone Handy Expense is worth considering as an addition. Handy Expense is also available for S60 devices as part of the "Handy Traveller" suite (which includes Handy Clock and Handy Weather) and at the bundled price represents better value for money.

Handy Expense is available as a 7 day trail from the SymbianOne shop for S60 3rd Edition devices (such as the Nokia N80) or S60 2nd Edition devices (such as the Nokia 6680). There are also versions for UIQ 2.x (Such as the Sony Ericsson P910) and UIQ 3 (such as the Sony Ericsson M600i).



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