Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
Usable, but still frustratingly limited. Why can't they get it right?
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!