When I last blogged about Cozi, I mentioned a hardware-based family organizer that had a short lifespan. Organization products are hard to get right even when you have the flexibility of software at your disposal, and designing them for the nontechnical raises the bar tremendously.
Now a small Midwestern startup is taking its stab with Jenda, a voice-driven standalone electronic calendar that’s the ultimate conceptual evolution of those little four-button IC-based family “message centers” that they used to sell specialty electronics retailers. They seemed like good ideas, but were probably just too much tech applied for too much money for too simple a problem — a scaled-down version of the PDA dilemma.
Jenda is a third of the price of the last hardware-based home organizer. In fact, at $50 online it’s probably only about 20 or 30 dollars more than those simple message recorders used to cost. The product is small and slim and can be attached to a refrigerator or used with an integrated stand.
Jenda appears to have a pretty well-thought out feature set and user interface and may be enough for casual event reminders such as birthdays, but ultimately the lack of visual preview makes it nearly impossible to prepare for upcoming events. Voice notes are a breeze to enter, but difficult to edit or manipulate. Some Web-based service will likely ultimately prevail as the best family organizational tool, preferably one that remains automatically synchronized to other calendars such as the nearly unavoidable Outlook. In the meantime, consider Jenda for grandma.