Get a database app for iPad

You don't have to own a Mac to use FileMaker's new Bento for iPad, but if you do, wireless sync adds extra incentive to take your personal databases on the go.

You don't have to own a Mac to use FileMaker's new Bento for iPad, but if you do, wireless sync adds extra incentive to take your personal databases on the go.

Bento offers iPad users a portable personal database for storing everything from birthdays and home expenses to recipes and an exercise log, with 25 templates to get you started. Integration with the address book, dialer, Safari browser, e-mail inbox, and Google Maps make Bento a useful iPhone app offering that could become a master storehouse for your separate lists; and one that quickly facilitates calls, mapping, and Web searches from within the app.

Bento's home screen displays all your data libraries, which you can swipe through to view. Other screens let you add a new library, search for entries, or sync to Bento on the Mac. Each new library is prepopulated with one dummy entry to get you started. While there is a dedicated search screen, a similar search field within each library facilitates more advanced investigations of your data.

While straightforward at the top level, Bento for iPad has a few more tricks tucked away--like the option to rate your contacts (your child's babysitters, for instance), and add additional data fields. Bento will also let you create subcollections within any record with the push of a button that looks like three overlapping squares. Those familiar with Bento 2 for Mac will note that while calculations and related records from the desktop version can be transferred to and used on the iPad version, you won't be able to create either on the device.

Overall, if you're the type that likes to catalog items, create databases of info, and stay organized, Bento offers a unique and flexible database solution that's made easy by an intuitive touch-screen interface.

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