Resco Explorer 2008: New features review

In the beginning of June, Resco released a new major update to their award winning Resco Explorer for Pocket PC, this time version 2008 (v. 7.00). Many people consider this the best commercial file explorer available for the Pocket PC, and therefore whenever a new update is released many people will want to know if they should update.

Updates are free within a year after purchase, if you’ve purchased Resco Explorer more than a year before you’re trying to upgrade, you’ll have to pay 50% of the full prize which is $29.95 (so the upgrade is close to $15). It’s a fairly pricey program, and that might make it attractive to get one of Resco’s suites here. That’s what I did: Resco Explorer, Photo Viewer and Keyboard Pro for $44.91. So you pay for the two cheapest programs and get the most expensive one for free. Or, in other words, pay for Resco Explorer Pro and get the other two for $15 instead of $45. The only disadvantage here is that after a year, you’ll need to upgrade the entire suite also if you want to continue to update only one program. (But perhaps the Resco team can help you here, I haven’t informed about this).

I’m now in the final weeks of my Law studies (if all goes well, that is), so in this review I will limit myself to only reviewing the new features of Resco Explorer 2008. I’m going to assume that you’re either familiar with the previous version(s), or you’ll let yourself get convinced by the fact that Resco Explorer won the Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine’s Best Software Awards every year from 2001 to last year.

During installation, I was surprised to see that Resco Explorer only requires 1,5 MB to install. That doesn’t include the FTP, registry and add-ins, but they are all smaller than 200 kb each as well. So I’m not sure how much space was required for the last version of Resco Explorer, but Resco does know how to put a lot of good stuff in a small package.

I’ll now move on to discuss the new features.

Touch control support

All items used to take only the vertical height that the font required. While this means that a you can fit many items on your screen, it also makes it hard to operate Resco Explorer with your finger. If I didn’t want to pull out my stylus, I usually swiped my finger to scroll through long lists, and then used the D-Pad to navigate to an item more precisely, and perform an action on it. That’s no longer necessary. With the new version you can use “touch optimized mode”, and to make it easier you are prompted if you want that optimization immediately when you start Resco Explorer 2008 for the first time. Touch Optimized mode includes more space for individual items, as well as a high toolbar. Of course you can also still view your items in lots of other modes, as can be seen in the other two screenshots below. (I’ve kept the toolbar large – more on the toolbar later).

 

Obviously, Touch mode also means that you can easily scroll by swiping your finger. If you disable the setting for this, swiping your finger across the screen will select all the items that you’ve swiped over. This way you can select items right away. With Touch Mode enabled, you won’t be able to select more than one file. This is because tap-and-hold would open the popup menu and if I moved my finger down before the popup menu was opened, I would scroll through the list. However, you can tap the second button from the right on the toolbar in the screenshots above, which will put a checkbox in front of every item. This way you can easily select multiple items just by tapping on them!

Side letter navigation bar

Lots of you will have seen videos of the iPhone where someone scrolls through the contacts, and uses the letter navigation bar at the side to quickly get to a contact starting with a specific letter. Now, Resco Explorer 2008 also allows you to do this (with your files of course, not with your contacts). The side letter navigation bar is optional so you can disable it if you want, but I can only see the positive sides of this. You can scroll with your finger, or with your stylus you can swipe across the right side of the screen and then select a letter. If you want, Resco Explorer can automatically hide the letter bar again after you’ve used it. But perhaps you want to keep it visible – that’s all possible!

File search filter

We all know the very basic search tools that are available with some programs. Enter the keyword you want to look for, and press “Search”. If you’re lucky you also get a “Search Next” button, but that’s about it. Resco wants to give you more power in the way you search for your items, and therefore make you find your items faster. You can use the “Not older than” option if you’re looking for a fairly recent item (even though the drop-down box allows you to look for Years as well). But if you know that you’re looking for an item that’s a bit older, you can enter the dates between when the item was created or last edited. The third item is pretty self-explanatory and allows you to filter the search results based on their file size. And finally, you can select to only look for – for example – system files or read-only files. Of course you can also turn it around: checking the “Attributes” button and then selecting all boxes except for the “ROM” checkbox, should give you all results but leave out files in ROM. There’s no option here to search for a filetype, but you can just search for .jpg in the search field if you only want to see .jpg images.

Virtual folder – quick access to documents, pictures, audio files…

Now here we have something new. Resco Explorer 2008 allows you to put a link to your Virtual Folders on the toolbar, and from there you can immediately access all your documents, images, encrypted files, etc. Now there’s not a lot to say about this apart from that it’s a very easy and quick way to find all the items of a certain kind on your device, so let’s just keep it with that. Sometimes short descriptions are better than lengthy examples. Besides, I use my iPod for videos and music, so there’s not a lot to show anyway.

However, what I can tell you, is that Resco is considering to improving this feature in a soon-to-be-released update. You should think in the direction of filtering the files you get to see. Perhaps you will be able to exclude folders like the \windows and \program files folder so that you don’t get to see application images when looking for photographs.

Customizable toolbar

Here we have another new feature that I like a lot. As you can see, I’ve started with a toolbar that includes an icon with two blue and a red ball, in front of a document. That icon opens a “Send to…” popup menu that allows you to send an item to your Favourites, the Start menu, attach it to an e-mail, send it with BlueTooth, and more. However, if you don’t use such functionality a lot, you can simply replace the button and change it to the Virtual Folder button for example. With Resco Explorer 2008, you can completely customize the toolbar by disabling en selecting the items you want to appear on it.

I thought that I found a small issue here, because I didn’t see any way to move the items up or down in the list. I didn’t see any easy control over the order of the items in the toolbar! However, after a quick e-mail to the developer I was told that you can move items by selecting them, holding your stylus on the screen, and then dragging them to the desired location. However, Resco understood the confusion this might cause by people who don’t try to drag, so they are considering to improve this. Perhaps they can simply include some up/down buttons at the right side of the screen.  

Large toolbar buttons optimized for touch mode

You’ve already seen the toolbar, so this shouldn’t be a surprise at this point. The toolbar can have large buttons so that you can easily select them with your thumb. You can, however, change a setting in order to return to the small toolbar buttons. This way, you can have twice as much icons on the toolbar, but you will probably need a stylus to press them. If you don’t need the toolbar at all you can disable it alltogether, but I don’t see myself ever doing this because there are far too many useful items in the toolbar that I use daily.

AES Zip encryption

AES encryption was already available for normal files, but now Resco has added a way to encrypt your files and folders directly when compressing them. Not only will this redure the space that your files/folders use on your device or storage card, it will also make it very hard to access them without having the password (which will be asked when you select the encryption and press the Add soft-key).

FTP module completely rebuilt, secure FTP added

Unfortunately, I can’t say anything about the FTP part of Resco Explorer 2008. I don’t use FTP: I’ve only downloaded something from the XDA-Developers FTP server two or three times, and that was from my laptop. So, FTP has no meaning for me on my PPC, which means that we should probably just move on.

Settings dialog reorganized

New features such as the Touch mode and customizable toolbar require additional settings to toggle. For this, Resco decided to reorganize the Settings a bit. I still find it a bit strange that Resco Explorer has General and Customize settings – I would prefer them combined by simply adding a few more tabs. However, that’s not the case, and you need to use the Customize settings apart from the General settings. I will show you two of the settings pages. (The Toolbar tab has already been displayed above, when discussing the customizable toolbar.) On the Skin tab, you can change the skin (color scheme), and – which is very nice – the action that is performed when the left soft-key is pressed. Do you want to go up one folder, open the action popup menu, or open it right away – it’s all possible. You can also change the font of the items in the program here.

On the other page you can see the Touch options. Enabling Touch Scrolling has the effects described above (you need to have the Multi-Select button on the toolbar in order to select several files at one time, but in turn you get easy finger scrolling). You can also enable the letter navigation scroller, and select if it should or shouldn’t be hidden after you’ve used it. You’re allowed to enable the tree view (folders on the left, items on the right – or a vertical split) and configure that Resco Explorer shouldn’t open items when you tap them once, but only when you tap them twice.

 

Added Details View mode

As you’ve seen above, Resco Explorer can display the contents of your folders in various ways. One of them is the Details view. This will give you large items for good thumb-selection, but also it will include quite some details about the files and folders you see. For example, let’s take a look at the cemai.vol item at the left. You see the name of the file, cemail, and the file extention: .vol. Then we can see the size, 1248kb and what properties the file has. A stands for Archive, and H for Hidden. Only because I’ve enabled the display of Hidden files, we can see this file – if you don’t need to see them you can hide them. Next, we see the date when the file was last used. And, obviously, the large icon to the left of all that information tells us about the file properties as well. I can easily recognize the “Homepage_spm.htm” file by the Internet icon in front of it, before I’ve analysed the file name to see that it says .htm at the end.

This View mode is a good combination of Touch features and displaying a lot of information about a file, which would otherwise only be possible by selecting the Report view. But that doesn’t have the large Touch items.

Favorites redesigned

A feature that I use a lot is Favorites. Some locations take a long time to travel to. For example, the folder with shortcuts in the startmenu require you to browse through the \Windows folder, which takes a while to load. Also, the \Windows\Appmgr\Install folder (where you can extract the cabfiles during .exe installation of software from the desktop) is a location I want to browse through quickly quite often. Of course there are also some other locations you might want to you travel to such as the My Documents folder, or a custom folder where you keep your documents, Today themes, bookmarks, etc.

The Favorites feature allows you to do this.
Adding a folder to your Favorites can be done just by picking Send to > Favorites from the popup menu when you tap-and-hold on a folder. Then, if you tap the large star in the toolbar, you get to your Favorites folder from where you can quickly go to that folder. You can of course remove your favorites and rename them if you want.

Oh, and if you don’t want the large star on your toolbar, there’s always the little star in the top right corner. Tapping it will open a popup menu from where you can also access your favorites, and edit them.

 

Quick search

If you are looking for a file in a large folder, but don’t want to go through the process of going to Search and setting up all kinds of extra filters, you can simply reduce the amount of visible items in a folder by pressing on the small looking glass icon at the top. You can then start typing, and the files in your folder will be hidden if they don’t match with the text that’s typed in the search box. Quite useful, and it certainly eliminates the need to browse through a long list of items in – for example – the \Windows folder! Simply pressing the letter ‘r’ after tapping the looking glass symbol will significantly reduce the amount of visible items and, in fact, show me many Resco-related items in the \Windows folder.

Significant speed increase in Registry module, Increased speed in loading folder items

Here, I can’t show you any screenshots to illustrate the improvements made by Resco. I can just tell you that the \Windows folder still doesn’t show up within, let’s say, two seconds, but I do see improvements in speed. The \Windows folder is, I think, the classic example of a large folder so if you want to test this for yourself, you know where to browse to: it’s right in the top-most folder of your device.
As for registry module speed, I can’t tell you any different. The HKCR registry folder is the one that takes the longest if you try to view its contents. And it still takes a few seconds to load, but again I have a feeling that the speed increased.

However, I wouldn’t worry about speed too much. I haven’t found any speed problems while using previous versions of Resco Explorer, and this one runs fine as well. The built-in file explorer doesn’t load the ‘heavy’ folders instantatious either. Of course, the motivation of the Resco team to increase the speed of the program is always good, and speed, efficiency and a small program footprint are goals that can (and should) always be part of software development.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are several new features, including the customizable toolbar and the Touch mode. We’ve also discussed some changes in the way the Options are organized and in how you can view your files inside the folders. Virtual folders have been added, and you’ve got a lot more power when searching for an item that’s hidden deep into some unknown subfolder on your device. The already market-leading Resco Explorer got even better and, among others, answers to todays demand for easy touch-navigation.

Wether or not the upgrade is worth it for you (if you’re no longer in the free upgrade timespan) is something I can’t decide. All I can say is that I enjoy using the Touch mode a lot, and that I’m looking forward to optimizing the way the toolbar looks. I’m glad Resco told me how to change the order of the buttons on the toolbar, since that was a real timesaver. Resco Explorer was one of the programs I used a lot without being able to comfortably control it without stylus. That, among other things, has been improved a lot. 

For new users, it should be clear that I haven’t shown all features of Resco Explorer. You can of course download the trial from Resco’s website and find out what you couldn’t figure out in this article. Trials can be downloaded as .exe or as .cab file, but if you work with .cab files you’ll need to install the registry, ftp and today screen elements seperately. If you use the .exe installer, you can just toggle the items you want to install during the installation process.

As said before, Resco Explorer 2008 (version 7.00) can be purchased for $29.95 and will include 1 year of free updates. After that, you’ll be charged 50% for an upgrade. And if you’re willing to give some more of your money to Resco, check out their software packages as well, in order to get [Keyboard Pro + Photo Viewer] or [Pocket Radio + Audio Recorder + Photo Viewer] for a discounted price. All purchase info can be found here.

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11 thoughts on “Resco Explorer 2008: New features review

  1. Excellent review, far more detailed than the reviews typically done on other web sites.

    I’m still trying to decide if I like the scroll mode because as I’m scrolling I keep accidently opening items because I touched them while scrolling. Then I have to wait for it to open, close it and go back to scrolling. Hopefully it’s just getting used to it.

  2. I’ll comment on my own comment….if you check the box for “double tap” to open the problem goes away.

  3. Thank you Mike!

    It was nighttime for me when you replied, so I wasn’t here to reply to you. I didn’t have any issues with opening items on single tap, so perhaps it could be a matter of getting used to it. But in any case it’s good that such problems can be avoided with the double-tap option. Might be a good safety measure to take anyway, when enabling touch scrolling. :)

  4. Thanks, Stefan! Your thorough review convinced me to upgrade from Resco Explorer 2007 to v2008 right away!

    Best of Luck to you as you finish up Law School!

    Nick
    Springfield, VA, USA

  5. Hi Nick!
    Great to hear you liked the review. In case you run into any problems (several people have, you can check the Resco Forums), please be aware Resco is working on updates which will also probably bring back some removed features, such as having the Tree View menu item back in the View submenu (easier accessible).

    And thanks, I’ll do my best of course. ;-)

  6. Thanks, again, Stefan! You just saved me a lot of heartache!

    Your alerting me to some of the “issues” with Resco Explorer 2008 in your last post above led me to read through the Resco Forums on the problems. I was just about to install the new version (now that I have a few free minutes!)…..but, have decided to wait until Resco releases an update. I purchased the upgrade….but will just hold off on install for a while.

    Thank God for RSS and subscribing to your posts! You seem to be more on top of things than many of the sites that are supposed to do this stuff for a living.

    Whatever course you decide to follow in your life, it is obvious you will be a great success!

    Best Regards,

    Nick

  7. Nick,

    Thanks a lot for your comment! If I could earn a living with PPC blogging there’s a good chance I’d do it for a while after finishing my studies. Reviews, conferences, sounds great. I don’t have the many years of experience and knowledge about overseas markets though ;).

    Anyway, I’m glad you’ve found my warning helpful. I don’t have any problems with Resco Explorer, but several others do, so there’s a risk. Resco was planning on a quick update so let’s see what happens next week or so! :)

  8. Nick,

    The update has been posted on the Resco site so I guess you can install it now. I haven’t tried it yet myself, but the .cab installer is waiting to be synchronized to my device. ;-)

  9. Stefan,

    I’ve been watching Resco Explorer evolve to v7.02….but still am not reassured by some of the comments in Resco’s forum concerning continued significant bugs. I think I will play it safe and await future updates until the program seems a bit more polished.

    Nick

  10. Hi Stefan!

    Looks like things are settling down with Resco Explorer, so I think I will try installing it this weekend. The Resco Forum has become very quiet in recent days, so I think most of the important bugs have been fixed.

    Have a great weekend!

    Nick

  11. Great to hear that! I guess it’s a good thing when the Resco forums go quiet, after the recent activity there. ;-)

    I hope Resco Explorer will work well for you!
    Have a great weekend too!

    Stefan

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