I will start off by saying I have been a huge fan of Bento since it was first introduced to the Mac a couple of years ago. It solved a huge problem that many faced, and that was an easy-to-use database application that still had enough power behind it to actually be useful. Since its initial launch there have been updates all the way to the current version (v3), and the launch of the iPhone version of Bento which has taken the top spot as the database app for the iPhone. I was really excited when I had the opportunity to learn about Bento for the iPad, and even more excited when I could actually try the app out for myself on my newly acquired iPad.
First impression upon opening the iPad version is you can immediately “feel” that this is Bento, and that it is not just a scaled up version which some have been doing. If you have used Bento iPhone, or even the desktop application, you will feel right at home and it won’t take but a few minutes to get accustomed to the new UI of the iPad. Let me also note now that you do not need the Bento desktop app to use the iPad version. It is completely stand-alone in that aspect, but if you do have the desktop app, you can wirelessly sync your databases to and from the device via wi-fi.
Since I do have the desktop version, I immediately setup the sync which involves just a minute of your time, and then it is pretty much seamless after that. All the libraries I had in Bento were synced wirelessly and immediately showed up in Bento iPad. Since one of my main uses for Bento has been home inventory, the first thing I did to test the app was to enter some data on my newly purchased iPad.
The library has all the exact same fields that are in my desktop library, and all I really had to do was enter my data. I had a picture of my iPad stored in my image library, so I was also able to import that into the media field. The interface is very well designed, and the clipboard-like theme looks fantastic on the iPad and is very easy to work with. There are other themes to choose from, and all of them were very usable in my review. Bento iPad also looks superb in either portrait or landscape mode, which the latter gives you more of a “split screen” view to work with. I used Bento in both modes and really it’s going to come down to your personal preference as both modes work perfectly fine.
Of course home inventory is just my favorite use, but that is just one of the many uses for Bento. Included are over 25 templates that give you a quick start for a wide variety of ways to organize data. Each template can be customized to your needs, or you can start your library from scratch and tailor it to your specific needs. Customization is fairly simple, and you can place all types of fields such as text, dates, media, and more.
Working within Bento for iPad is a fun and productive experience. If your library contains media like a photo or movie file, you can view these directly inside Bento without having to close the app. The same goes for links and e-mail which can be viewed using the integrated browser and e-mail feature for sending e-mails from addresses in your database.
With many other iPad apps hitting the App Store at $10+, Bento for the iPad is a steal at just $4.99 for all the features it offers. Whether you need to organize recipes, catalog your DVD collection, or any other organizational task, Bento iPad will make it easier to accomplish. I can safely say Bento iPad takes its place in my top 5 favorite iPad apps.