Resco, founded in 1999 and based in Bratislava (Slovakia), is one of the “oldest” developers for the Windows Mobile platform. A few days ago Resco announced a new version of a multiple award winning application: Resco Explorer 2010.
I have been using Resco Explorer 2010 for a few days now, and in this article I would like to write down my findings in a mini-review format. I will mainly focus on the new features, but will also address a few other aspects that really make Resco Explorer the default file manager for your Windows Phone.
Let’s start quickly and download the Resco Explorer 2010 cab-files from the Resco Explorer Downloads page. Compared to the previous versions, there is no separate cab-installer for the FTP plugin. I install all cab-files of Resco Explorer 2010, and as you can see in the left screenshot above there are about five Resco shortcuts added to the start menu: (1) Resco File Explorer, (2) Resco Registry, (3) Resco System Info, (4) Resco Update, and (5) Resco Task Manager.
I you have used previous version of Resco Explorer you will certainly know the Resco Registry and Resco System Info plugins. The first gives you the ability to manage and edit the registry on your Windows Phone, so you don’t need to install an additional program just for this ability. The latter gives you an overview of the “realtime” storage- and battery statuses.
In the right screenshot above you see the “main” screen of Resco Explorer, and as you can see the userinterface is completely optimized for touch control. This approach results in big buttons in the bottom toolbar and also each entry in the folder list is large and easy to select. Since I installed Resco Explorer 2010 on the HTC HD2, which is designed for complete touch control, the interface works exceptionally well in practice.
Resco Explorer 2010 features a touch optimized Task Manager
One of the five Resco shortcuts in the Windows Mobile 6.5 start and settings menu that I didn’t discuss in the previous section is the Resco Task Manager. When Windows Mobile 6.1 was released back in 2008, one of the improvements was a default Microsoft Task Manager for Windows Mobile. This is a kind of similar solution which we can see on Windows Desktop, with the limitation that this Task Manager isn’t optimized for finger friendly use.
A new feature in Resco Explorer 2010 is a touch optimized task manager, which can be launched from the start menu or the re-designed today plugin. When you start the Resco task manager, a kind of overlay is openened with a list of running programs. The large buttons, and list entries make is very easy to close a slingle program, or you might use the option close all to kill all running programs.
Remarkable is furthermore the used memory per application, for example Active Sync – Memory: 489k, and a total memory overview in the header – Memory 207M (of 337 M). You can close the Resco Task Manager with the red button in the Taks Manager header, or simply by tapping on the screen outside of the Resco Task Manager area.
A completely redesigned Resco Explorer 2010 today plugin
In the previous version of Resco Explorer, there already has been a today plugin implemented. You can see the (old) today plugin of Resco Explorer 2008 in a very extensive review of Terry Davis, Editor of PocketNow.
“The last improvement affects Explorer’s Today plug-in. The old one has been replaced by a new totally customizable plug-in with Task Manager and other handy tools.”
As you can see in the screenshots above, the Resco Today plugin consits of a few bars. On the top there is the so called timebar, which shows date, time, alarm clock and mobile operator. Below the timebar there are by default three itemsbars, which can be customized and extended.
Via tap and hold you can customize the Resco today plugin. As you can see in the right screenshot above you can remove current shortcuts / widgets, and add new items to the today plugin. You can add: (1) Phone Contact, (2) Keyboard Lock, (3) Battery / Memory, (4) Application, and (5) Documents.
As an example I choose to select the option “application”, which brings me to a new screen with a list of current installed applications. I selected WordlCard Mobile from the list, as you can see in the left screenshot above. Furthermore I have added the Wi-Fi Router application, the ComManager and a Phone Contact, which you can see in the right screenshot.
Via a tap-and-hold on a today plugin item you open a pop-up menu. In case of the bluetooth switch you can set the bluetooth mode to invisible or visible, while in the case of a phone contact you can choose a communication method directly from the homescreen. Remarkable is furthermore that the number of itembars can be extended, which could give youa complete grid of shortcuts on your today screen.
Upload pictures to your social networks directly from Resco Explorer 2010
Resco released Resco Photo Manager 7 back in end December 2009, after a few beta releases. Resco Photo Manager is extensively reviewed by my colleague Paul Willen, who also tested this application in the beta-phases. In the Resco Explorer press release you can read:
“Resco team enriched Explorer with the popular feature of uploading images to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Picasa, MySpace and Photobucket.”
When you have a look at Resco Photo Manager there is clear synergy, and probably code sharing with this similar implementation of sharing pictures on social networks directly from Resco Explorer 2010 or Resco Photo Manager.
In the left screenshot above you can see the “Upload To” menu item when you tap and hold on a picture. When you select this item a new list with social networks is presented to which you can upload the specific picture. In the right screenshot above you can see this list.
Picasa and Flickr are large photo and picture storage websites / networks. Personally I was looking for a dedicated Flickr application for Windows Mobile, with a similar functionality as the Flickr Uploader for Windows. I have found my solution here, within Resco Explorer 2010.
You can also upload pictures to the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook. The advantage is that you can upload pictures, without having a dedicated Facebook or Twitter application installed on you Windows Phone. If you want to compare, please have a look at the step-by-step review of the Microsoft Facebook application for Windows Mobile.
I decided to share the Specialized Tarmac SL3 frameset picture on Twitter, so I selected the Twitter service from the list and logged in with my credentials. When you are logged in you will need to choose an album for the picture, like presented in the left screenshot above. You can either share the picture public or not public, which is something you will recognize from Flickr for example. After you have chose the album the picture is uploaded to the specific service, while the progress is shown in a typical Resco Explorer progress bar.
Thumbnail view mode in Resco Explorer 2010
Another new feature in Resco Explorer 2010, which is also aimed at the management of pictures is the thumbnail view mode. When you tap and hold on the Specialized Tarmac SL3 frameset picture, you can see the view menu item. Selecting this menu item results in a presentation of the picture, like you can see in the right screenshot above.
“Next main improvement is the introduction of thumbnails view mode. This new mode simplifies work with the image folders. It improves navigation and helps to find the right image. Another big issue; users will be able to recognize interaction with the Photo Manager. The thumbnail loading will become faster and Explorer will support more image file types if users install both programs.”
Here you can again see the synergy with Resco Photo Manager, which results in a clever integration and faster loading times when both applications are installed. The screenshots above however show the situation when Resco Explorer 2010 is installed “stand alone” !
Other great features and functionality in Resco Explorer 2010
While the previous sections describe the main new improvements in Resco Explorer 2010, I would like to address some of its great older features as well. These features are mainlyproductivity related, and help you to get things done on your Windows Phone !
The first feature I would like to discuss is the virtual folders, which you can access via the favourites button (yellow star) in the upper right corner of the Resco Explorer 2010 screen. Virtual folders provide you the ability to have easy access to certain types of files, no matter where these files are physically stored (main memory or storage card).
In other words you can access documents, encrypted files, images, music and videos directly from the virtual folders, without for example the need to browse to a three level sub-folder on your storage card. The idea or concept is quite similar as the Libraries under Windows 7 (for your desktop), which is very well explained by Jim Henderson -editor of makeuseof.com- in the article: “Windows 7 Libraries Explained – And Why You Want Them“
Resco Registry Editor
With the Resco Registry cab-file you turn Resco Explorer 2010 into a full feature registry editor for your Windows Phone. The great advantage is that you don’t need to install another separate registry editor, like SmartReg 3.5 for Pocket PC (payware) or PHM Registry Editor 0.70 (freeware). Furthermore you can edit the registry of your Windows Phone, directly from within Resco File Explorer 2010, like you can see in the right screenshot above.
In the previous versions of Resco Explorer you needed to install an additional CAB-installer for the FTP plugin, however in Resco Explorer 2010 this is not neccessary (it is build-in by default). I have a Synology Disk Station DS-207+, where I can access backups over FTP, so therefore an embedded FTP client is very welcome.
As you can see the FTP client of Resco Explorer 2010 supports also the Secure FTP protocol if available, so you can safely transfer your documents. The only other freeware file explorer that has a build-in FTP client is Total Commander for Windows Mobile, however the Secure FTP protocols aren’t supported.
Resco Explorer 2010 also includes a so called Network Browser to explore shared network drives and the documents on it.
Resco Explorer 2010 furthermore includes a build-in “ZIP/unZIP-application”. For example when you need to e-mail a Microsoft Word-, Microsoft Excel document, a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation or simply a multimedia file, it is very helpful to compress a file first before you sent it (in order to save data).
Via the tap and hold action on a specific file, in the example the Specialized Tarmac SL frameset picture, you can open the menu and choose the item “compress” to pack the file. In the right screenshot above you can see that it is possible to set the name of the archive, the location, choose the compression level from the pull down menu and apply encryption if you like. Finally you can check the option move to archive, which “deletes” the original (non-packed) file.
Via the same tap and hold action, you can open the menu and choose the Encrypt menu item, you might have noticed in the screenshot above. A new screen is opened where you need to set the encryption details, which is shown in the left screenshot above. At first you see the password- and confirm password fields, where you need to enter the password to decrypt later.
The option delete original file(s) is checked by default. However more important is the encryption algorithm, which is shown in the upper left corner. The default value is “RC2” 128 bit encryption, which can be changed via the settings button. I would personally change the encryption into the “AES 256” encryption, which is a stronger algorithm.
Finally when you install Resco Explorer 2010 via a Microsoft Installer on your desktop, an encryption component is also installed in your Windows Shell.
Favourites and search
Finally two features that make everyday life a lot easier. In the upper right corner of the left screenshot above you can see a yellow star, which is the favourites button. With this button you can quickly open your favourite folders / locations. If you wan’t you can easily add your own favourites, via the large yellow-starred button in the bottom toolbar.
Left next to the favourites button, you can see the magnifier glass representing the search function. When you tap on the magnifier glass a search box is opened, where you can enter a search string and search your current folder. A great function when you have a large set of files in a specific folder, since you don’t need a lot of scrolling anymore.
Resco Explorer is the first application I install on my Windows Phone, and I hope that this extensive review provides a good overview of the features and functionality (new and old) in Resco Explorer 2010. The Resco Team would describe Resco Explorer 2010 in the press release as:
“Resco Explorer is the best selling file manager on Windows Mobile Market. Moreover, the fully touch-optimized application provides functions of a launcher, viewer, zipper, registry editor, ftp explorer & network browser. It is a true Swiss knife for daily use of each Windows Mobile user.”
If you are a current user of Resco Explorer, you are elligable to upgrade to Resco Explorer 2010 with a 50% discount !! This is a very reasonable quality for such a high quality application.
Furthermore I hope that some of the innovation outlined in this great new version of Resco Explorer 2010 for touch-devices will find its way to non-touch devices in a future release. It would be great if I could upload pictures to my social networks directly from within Resco Explorer on my HTC Snap.
While I can only conclude that Resco Explorer is absolutely the best File Explorer on the market. The term Swiss Army Knife is an understatement, since you carry a fully packed MacGyver toolbox in your pocket !! Check out the Resco Explorer product page, to download a trial or buy your copy, you simply can’t go wrong with this application.