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Review: Zagat To Go For BlackBerry

zagat1.jpgZagat To Go For BlackBerry
Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆ 6.5/10
Version: 5.11
Link: mobile.zagat.com/blackberry.htm
Cost: $29.99 a year
Compatibility: OS 4.0+

If you are a fan of the Zagat city guides then Zagat To Go is a sure hit. The application provides you mobile access to all of the 240,000 restaurant and nightclub ratings for over 70 cities. I personally found the program useful but sluggish. Every screen you click through has to be downloaded since none of the information is stored locally on the device. This gets even more frustrating since the ratings for nightclubs and restaurants are each in separate guides so you have to wait for each to download when you switch between the two. In short the content in Zagat To Go is great but the interface and delivery system brings the whole application down. If you are interested read the full in depth review after the jump.
First Impressions: The download and purchase of Zagat To Go was actually quite complicated due to the fact that the software is registered to your cellphone number. It required an email to customer service to get it to work. After that was done the program looks a bit unrefined but does pack some good information.

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The Interface: When you first open the program there is a wizard that automatically sets up your internet connection to work on your BlackBerry. You will then be asked to select a guide that you wish to browse. In the example above I selected the New York restaurant guide. Notice in the example above there are separate guides for New Orleans nightclubs and restaurants which is the case for many cities. Once you select the guide you will have to wait about 20 seconds for the guide to download. Once that is done you will see the main home screen above. This gives you access to the main directories of ratings and reviews. You can switch between the guides later by clicking on change guide in the menu which you can see in the second screenshot above. The problem is that every time you switch between guides you have to wait the extra 20 seconds to re-download the guide since it does not save it on your BlackBerry.

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The directory options are useful as you can see in the example screenshots above. The main breakdowns are shown below.

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The first allows you to either search in basic or advanced mode as you can see above.

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The second allows you to find restaurants based on characteristics of each one. You can see two examples above.

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The last lets you search based on the popularity of the location. This is bases on quite a few factors and you can choose the top list that you wish to use as a reference.

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Once again between each of these selections that you make you will see the download toolbar. This is because none of the information is stored locally so every request requires a new download.

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Once you make a selection as you can see above you will get some very good detailed information about the restaurant or nightclub. They also include some very nifty features that I found very useful. The descriptions are quite good but I could not get a good screenshot of them.

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The top of each listing has two buttons allowing you to either call the location by clicking the call button or viewing a map of the location.  The maps are pretty good and allow you to zoom in and out. You can also ask for directions to and from the location. The downside is that there is no saved address option or GPS support so you would have to enter in the address manually each time which can get frustrating. They also offer the option of getting route information on a turn by turn basis but sadly you cannot view the map and the route information at the same time.

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At the bottom of each listing you will find some cool integration options. There is a button to add the listing to your address book which I found useful. They also offer you the ability to add an item to your calendar but they do it through their interface which is not as user friendly as the native BlackBerry calendar. Last of all they also offer you the ability to send the listing by email to a friend but once again this is done through a clumsy Zagat interface that does not allow you to grab addresses from your address book.

Pros:

  • Wireless access to Zagat ratings and reviews
  • Good search options
  • Useful integration with BlackBerry functions such as calendar and address book
  • Ability to map out a location

Cons:

  • Subscription payment means you have to pay each year
  • Nothing is stored locally so downloading is required for all content
  • No integration to email to an address book contact
  • Clumsy activation process

Conclusion: In truth I would highly recommend Zagat To Go to all professionals who would otherwise be carrying a paperback Zagat guide. Personally I found that using Beyond411 got me results that were almost as good in half the time it took to even start Zagat To Go. The interface for Zagat To Go is a bit clumsy all around and could use refinement. I found that it had great in depth ratings and content on each of the locations but the presentation and accessibility left me wanting. I really wish they found a way to cache the listings locally so that searching would be an easier process since currently every selection requires communication with the server. Hopefully Zagat will get a GUI (Graphic User Interface) expert to help them redesign their application because the content is great but the delivery could use alot of work.

4 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I have used Zagat to go on my Palm for years and it was my favortie program.I am very disappointed with Zagat to go. I no longer have a wish or favorite list. and the shopping guides for food and stores are not available (which I used) I am also concerned about lack of access when my phone is out of range – too bad – I am now looking at other options. A drawback for Blackberry and Zagat

  2. I agree Fern. The fact that it has to download the information every time has made me give up on the application. I am hoping Mobipocket will manage to get a copy of Zagat to work as a database. The current implementation is just a pain that makes it completely useless. I use Beyond411 and they have some ratings built in which are decent

  3. One major drawback for me is that you cannot enter your current location and look for nearby restaurants. Neighborhoods is as close as this application will get. I guess I was spoiled by Vindigo on my palm device.

  4. Yeah it could really be so much better. The Palm and WM versions just prove that

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