REVIEW: SPB Migration Tool

SPB Software has released an app, the SPB Migration Tool, that migrates your Contacts data from your Windows Mobile phone to an Android device. They sell it mainly for people who buy a new phone and don’t want to lose all their old data. I still have a Windows Mobile phone, but wanted access to my Contact information on my new Android Tablet.

First, a bit of background so you can understand the challenges. Unlike most normal people, I didn’t simply walk in to my neighborhood phone store, buy a new phone, and expect the salesperson to copy everything over to the new phone. That would be too easy. I decided to experiment with Android tablets, and keep my Windows Mobile phone for now.

I use Outlook 2010 on my desktop computer and sync my phone using ActiveSync. Really. It’s worked for me for years, through many versions of Outlook and a long list of mobile devices. Because of that success, by Contacts list is very large (over 1500 contacts) and contains a VERY large amount of random data in the Notes field. It’s my little electronic brain. I have exported the data to my Gmail Contacts and frequently update it. Haven’t found a decent automatic sync yet, but that’s another project.

My new tablet is a Nook Color. Well, that’s what the label says, but it’s been rooted and turned into a very nice 7” Android 2.1 tablet. I’ve become quite fond of it and I’m learning how sweet Android is as an operating system. Out of the box, the Nook is a dedicated eReader, with marginal email, browsing, and apps features. You are locked out of the normal Android Market. As you might expect, there is an active hacker community that has un-crippled the device and turned it into a full-featured tablet.

One of the real shortcomings of the Nook is its Contact app. It is able to sync with your Gmail Contacts, which is great, but it only shows you a name and email. That’s it. No addresses, no phone numbers, no notes, none of the carefully entered information that I have carefully entered over the years. Not good.

As an Android noob, I didn’t understand what I was dealing with at first. Did I mess up something when I rooted it, was I just not understanding how to use the app, or what? After a bit of digging, I figured out that the Nook’s contact app was the real source of the problem. Not only was it very minimalist, it didn’t even use the standard Android contact database. I found a couple third-party apps that replaced the Contact viewer, editor, and even added enhanced search capabilities. (Check out Softwyer Contact View and Contact Lookup Fast if you need to manage large Contact lists on your Android device)

But, I still had to figure out how to get my data into the system. Enter SPB Software.

I came across their migration app and decided to give it a try. You buy the Android app through the usual Market sources. Once installed on your Android device, you can export your data either through the web, or by using an SD card. Since both of my devices use microSD cards, I chose that option.

SPB even has a special website with a wizard that leads you through the steps. I recommend that you visit the site and read through the steps. Extensive screenshots are provided so you will see exactly what will happen. You choose your Windows Mobile device and your Android device and then get a software package that you install on the Android device. SPB didn’t show my rooted Nook Color as an option, or any sort of generic devices, so I chose the Galaxy Tab as the closest device I could find.

On the tablet, I prepared the SD Card as instructed by the wizard. I then moved the card to the Windows Mobile phone and ran a program that had been written to the card. That program captured my Contact data and wrote a file on the card. I then moved the card back to the tablet and the app imported everything.

It actually took less time than I just spent typing the last 3 paragraphs! No muss, no bother, just blindly following the wizard. Opening my Contact search and view app on the tablet revealed (almost) all my data.

There are just a few minor issues. Why are there always issues?

Outlook categories are not ported to Android’s Groups. I use categories a lot, so that’s a notable shortcoming for me. Some phone numbers, emails, and addresses are not properly labeled – a Business phone may be noted as Mobile for example. This I can live with.

I do not know what other Outlook fields are omitted from the transfer. SPB is rather vague in that area, so you might want to inquire if you have large amounts of important data in some of the less common fields.

Overall this app is a bargain at $9.95. I had wasted many hours trying to use vCards, CSV files, and other apps that failed miserably. This app is a winner.

A note about the Author: Jim Dantin is an Independent Computer Software Professional in the Louisville area. He specializes in database schema and automated data collection.

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