CNET Editors' review
Bento is a database app from the makers of Filemaker offering plenty of great features, but its deliberate lack of focus may make it difficult for people to grasp its usefulness. Bento is loaded with templates to create databases of people, places, or things using nice-looking graphics. The interface takes some time to get used to, but with a little poking around (and once the major features become clear), the true power of Bento starts to materialize.
Bento can be used to catalog just about anything in any number of ways. Comic book collectors could use the program to catalog their collection, for example, complete with pictures, short summaries, and more, all in an aesthetically-pleasing interface. You might also use it to search for a new home, adding all the information, addresses, prices, and pictures of locations making it easy to compare houses against each other. Really any sort of collector or person trying to catalog similar items could find a use for this program. Bento comes with a large number of templates that cover many hobbies and business-related activities, and there are more user-made templates you can browse through at the Web site. Everything from showing more info about the players of your football team to cataloging your DVD collection are great examples of uses for Bento. But perhaps its amazing amount flexibility is its primary weakness because people can't immediately see what use they would have for the program.
Bento works seamlessly with Excel and Numbers making it possible to import information to fill out your templates. You also can import contacts and your personal calendar to display the information in unique ways. Plus, you can share Bento databases, allowing others to add information to your template, making it great for collaboration on a project.
Overall, we think Bento is a solid database program made easy by a largely WYSYWIG interface. The trouble with Bento is that it is not immediately clear why it is useful, making this great program a sleeper hit that remains under most people's radar.
What's your passion? Selling products, building client relationships, booking your band, organizing volunteers, running marathons, collecting coins? Whatever it is, Bento can help you do it better - the fast, fun, and easy way! Choose from 35 pre-designed templates included with Bento, download and import templates from others who share your passion, or design your own custom forms using beautiful themes designed by Mac artists. Use Bento to do all this and more: * Organize contacts, clubs and mailing lists * Track projects, tasks, and deadlines * Plan special events, parties and weddings * Link photos to contacts, projects, and events * Manage students, classes, and lecture notes * Search wine and movie collections * Catalog inventory, assets, and equipment * Record billable hours and payments due * Keep a daily log of diet and exercise * Store recipes and shopping lists See, secure, and share your information like never before!
What's new in this version:
- Provides bug fixes and compatibility updates related to new Bento 4 for iPad - now available from the iTunes App Store.
- Adds an additional localized version that runs in Simplified Chinese.
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All versions:2.9 stars
out of 39 votes
Current version:2.0 stars
out of 1 votes
My rating:Write review
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"A disappointment - not for serious business use"
Version: Bento 4.1.1
The easy integration with Apple's iWork suite is the major reason to buy this limited database application. This is the one aspect of Bento that keeps me from deleting it from my system.
Form design is relatively easy, especially if you begin with the library of form templates that is available. These two factors allow you to be up and running a rudimentary project management database relatively quickly.
Bento recommends a maximum of 10,000 records per library. Our experience has been that it has difficulty handling more than 1,000, without frequent hangs and crashes. Some small businesses that run on Mac platforms might be able to get some limited use from Bento, especially if calendar and project records are archived frequently; but it might be too frustrating for some.
Bento does not have the ability to create relational databases, which results in too much time-consuming manual updating and management for most business applications.
Bento's data export capabilities are very limited. You can create simple reports, but it is a cumbersome and time-consuming process.
The help function for Bento is almost non-existent and on-line technical support is spotty, in our opinion.
To be fair, Bento is advertised as a personal database, rather than a business database.
If you want to use it in a small business, as a low-cost CRM tool or for project management, it might meet your needs better than the more powerful programs such as Daylite or a customized Filemaker database. But be prepared for some frustrations and disappointments along the way, if you want to use Bento for any serious business functions.
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