Technology is supposed to save time, but with several devices and multiple software applications to coordinate, you inevitably ask, “Why can’t everything get input and be updated just once?”

When David Scharf felt that frustration five years ago, he started using Handheld Contact, which synchronizes ACT! (a contact-based software program) with his BlackBerry. This, claims the owner of David L. Scharf & Co., a residential remodeling company in Nyack, N.Y., is “the only reason to have a BlackBerry. It’s the bee’s knees.”

Handheld Contact, made by J2X Technologies, in Waterloo, Ontario, wirelessly syncs ACT! contacts, tasks, calendar, notes, and history items to a BlackBerry (or vice versa). You can sync all the standard fields in ACT! and up to 50 custom fields. From your BlackBerry, you can add new contacts or edit contacts. If you call or e-mail a contact, it records histories in ACT! for you. “Anytime you touch a client, it’s recorded in ACT!,” says Handheld Contact spokesperson Victor Krahn.

Synchronized and Backed Up

Scharf has set an automatic update for every 15 minutes on his BlackBerry, so he gets updates that are practically real-time. For example, his secretary can look at the calendar on her computer and, if someone calls, she can add an appointment, and Scharf’s BlackBerry is automatically updated. “In the field,” Scharf says, “I can add a number or change an appointment, and it goes to my desktop. To update data, I push a couple of buttons and the software imports and synchronizes my ACT! contact list right to the BlackBerry.” As for backup, he says, “I don’t have to plug anything in. There’s no docking station.” Recently his BlackBerry battery died, and the customer-service person was worried he might lose data. Since the software is linked to the desktop, Scharf wasn’t concerned. “That’s a comfort,” he says.

Although the Handheld Contact software is free, you pay for synchronizing services. It costs $239 per license for one year; the per month per license fee is $24.95. There is a 14-day free trial offered on the website. In July, the company launched two “lighter” versions that sync your mobile phone contact list with your address book and calendar.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.