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on April 17, 2013
Not sure what all the others are whining about...

The company I previously worked for used Filemaker Pro exclusively so I have about 10 years' experience with it. The may have deleted a few bells and whistles for us remote users, but it was pretty powerful.

We purchased the five license pack for our business and use DROPBOX to store the database so everyone can update it. The only drawback is that only one person can be updating at any given time.

After two weeks with Bento, I am kicking myself in the butt for not getting this a lot sooner. It was EXTREMELY easy to build a unique template that fit my needs for prospect management. Then I discovered it allows me to drag and drop emails (the links) into the form so I no longer need to search through my inbox or make folders specific to each project. That feature alone makes the program worth the cost.

THEN I found out you can drag and drop FILES (links) onto the contact card! No more searching the hard drive for quotes, etc. It's awesome! Everything in one spot!!!

I am unbelievably thrilled with this program. I'm using it on my MBA 11" running OS X 10.8. I haven't figured out yet how to do a few more things I want it to do, but even without that, it's the perfect solution for my needs.

**UPDATE - October 30, 2013**

Obviously I purchased this shortly before the Filemaker folks decided to do away with supporting this program. So that's a huge factor for anyone considering this product. And after six months of use, I'm finding enough limitations that I bit the bullet and purchased 4 Filemaker Pro licenses. The biggest problem for us was lack of error-free synchronizing between users. While the user interface was beautiful and easy to adjust, the sync problem really caused a lot of lost time and lost info. Am selling this if anyone's interested! :-)
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on May 5, 2011
I am still disappointed in Bento. I've been hoping they would get it right for a couple years now. Bento is very easy to set up and go, but that is due to its stultifying simplicity. Filemaker, Bento's big brother, is comprehensive but complex. Why can't Bento make up the middle ground??

Bento is easy to use, has a few good features, but many serious, frustrating limitations. As far as I can tell, this version just adds some social networking (web sharing) capability and integration with iPads, and that's about it. It is otherwise very close to Bento 3 (and see my 2-star review of that).

Bento has some good features:
- it integrates well with the MAC environment (address book, calendar, iPhoto)
- it is *fairly* easy to import data from spreadsheets (only. and still very basic and limited)
- it is quick for setting up simple database forms that look nice (but simple)
- it lets you move data to your iPhone/iPad with their app (although this has room for improvement)
- it has some mathematical field capabilities, but very rudimentary
- they offer access to a lot of free templates to get you started and to give you ideas

Obviously, Bento focuses on ease of use and integration, as well as simple, attractive appearance. But Bento still lacks flexibility, analytical features, and interoperability with other data applications and formats.

It is still very limited when it comes to:
- creating reports (repeating or otherwise) and/or summaries (unable to do them)
- creating summaries that are mathematically derived from other fields (cannot do it)
- sorting drop-down lists (can't do it)
- field definitions (small, canned set)
- free-form design/creativity (don't have it)
- database relationships (they make it sound simple, but it's clunky and limited)
- analyzing your data (simplicity of forms and lack of math make it impossible to really examine your data)
- graphical images (automatic formatting restricts how you can use images in your forms)
- data export (you're limited to text or spreadsheet)

Bento isn't expensive, tho it ain't cheap either, but it might not be money well spent, since it is very feature-free. It should be half the price. Bento's big brother, FileMaker, is expensive and for most people NOT money well spent, since it contains many more features (and complexity) than an average user needs.

If you're new to databases, or need to manage a simple mailing list or club membership, you might find this application sufficient for your needs. I recommend you download the trial version first before you buy.

This bento box is a snack that leaves you wanting more. I'm still waiting for them to get it right!
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on May 28, 2012
I have had nothing but trouble with this program since I was forced by Apple to upgrade to lion and switch from Mobileme to iCloud. I say "forced" because I was very happy and productive with Mobileme and, having been around computers for long enough, that I could smell a disaster in the making. I have now wasted hours on this program and see no end in sight,

Here is a quote from another user on the Bento Forum:

posted May 15, 2012 by Phil Russell
Jonathan and others:

Yesterday I had a long chat with a senior support person at FM about this issue. First of all, there is no clear message from FileMaker about this issue. A lot of hemming and hawing and prevarication, various suggestions, etc. The bottom line is, it doesn't work. I urged them to be clear with their users about this. The right thing for them to do would be to just come out and tell the truth. In the absence of them doing it, I'll write the support article for them:

"Dear Bento users, Bento will not integrate with your Mac Address Book if you sync your Address Book with iCloud. If you attempt to use it in this way, you will experience various problems. You Bento application will frequently freeze, requiring a Force Stop. Data will not synchronize properly between Bento and Address Book. There are so many problems with this, we don't even know all of them. We're very sorry for the problem. We released Bento 4 before iCloud was available. We never tested it with iCloud. We now know that it simply doesn't support iCloud-synchronized data. THEREFORE WE CAN CLEARLY STATE THAT YOU SHOULD NOT USE BENTO WITH ICLOUD-SYNCED DATA ON YOUR MAC. If you attempt to do so, we cannot be responsible for the results, and you will probably lose some or all of your valuable data. We know this is a terrible problem for many of you. We are working hard to fix it. While Sarbanes-Oxley law prevents us from providing a projected date when this problem will be solved, please rest assured that it has the very highest priority within our development team. We realize that iCloud is an essential part of the Mac ecosystem. Our goal is to provide complete and robust support for iCloud. With each new release of Bento, we will work hard to make this goal a reality."

Of course I've editorialized somewhat, but this is what we'd all like to hear from FileMaker at this stage. Let's see whether they'll do the right thing and make a statement that is substantially similar to this.

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on April 5, 2014
Bento has been discontinued and is being sold at Fire Sale prices, yet it still works and does what it does. Bento always has been a compromised product from it's basic design concept: it needed to be simpler to use than Filemaker but had to be restricted in functionality to keep from cannibalizing Filemaker's market. It succeeded admirably in those two goals and as it did so it failed, in my opinion, to be sufficiently useful to be worth the price asked. It is, however, worth the current Fire Sale price. It integrates well with some Apple applications and can be used to extend functionality in useful ways. While the useful life of the product *may* be limited, the price paid is low enough to consider it as a useful utility as long as one does not count on the product being useful when OS 10.10 is released in the next year or so.
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on October 12, 2014
I bought this to create a simple database for myself, just what it's made for. Alas it's no longer supported but if you can find a copy for yourself I'd snap it up. Software companies have a lot of programmers just sitting around, thinking how to complicate things. That's not needed. I almost felt Bento was too simple but I calmed myself down and we were fine after that.
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on January 27, 2013
This product is really pretty as concerns the design. And the initial concept (which does not seem anymore that obvious for iPad in the latest release of Bento 4) of synchronizing with the Address Book / Contacts through the iCloud was a very good idea, that has probably been the convincing argument for buying that product in the past.
BUT, all this looks attractive, and too easily convinces you to spend time (and money) in building your database and organizing your entries. Once done, you realize that in the real life, real world, this is mostly a nice useless toy, because the most basic feature that you ask a database is: fancy and smart reports. I.e. the ability of printing, publishing, sending nice reports in a personnalized shape. Not only stupid lists.
Probably Filemaker does not want "professionals" to be tempted by Bento by making it smarter, productive, and want to redirect them to the labyrinthic Filemaker Pro. They make here a huge mistake, because the widest market exists for private people who cannot afford trying to understand and use Filemaker Pro (which in addition does not synchronize with Mac Contact/Address Book through iCloud, which is absolutely unprofessionnal these days), and, however, need a usefull database. Like for the management of small associations, classrooms, etc. But even small companies who can afford Filemaker Pro: it is hard to use, they would often be forced to pay someone to build and conceive the base adapted to their needs, which is not affordable.
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on October 16, 2012
We upgraded to Bento 4 because we love the product and wanted to integrate all of our computers. Everything worked great until we upgraded our Lion server to 4.2.2. Our laptops our still on Mac OS 10.6 and cannot receive the the 4.2.2 from Bento. So now none of our Bentos see each other which defeats the purpose. So watch out!
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on December 17, 2013
This is such a simple and easy to use little database. I have also used FileMaker Pro for many years and have built sophisticated databases for companies. But for the person who wants something he can jump in and use, this is it. Can't believe they have discontinued making it.

Initially, Bento interfaced with iPhoto which was really cool.
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on June 14, 2015
Excellent item for my needs, even though it is not being produced, or supported any more. However, there are many users online that have been quite helpful!
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on November 6, 2013
This program is so easy to use. It is very convenient for doing address labels, keeping track of contacts. A very easy and complete data base system.
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