Try to remember: Evernote vs. Springpad

The two best-known data collection apps go head to head.

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Interface

While Evernote offers a one-interface-fits-all user interface, Springpad's is more specialized, especially when it comes to data about movies, products and other consumer interests.

Evernote

Evernote's desktop client has gone through some fairly radical makeovers since its beginning in June, 2008. The current version offers an interface divided into three parts: a left-hand column that lists your notebooks (the main way to organize your entries) and tags, a center column that lists the entries within the selected notebook, and a right-hand column that shows the contents of the highlighted entry.

Evernote vs. Springpad

Evernote's client interface offers easy access to your notebooks and items.

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You can, if you wish, tweak the interface somewhat. For example, you can choose to hide any of the three columns, you can view your entries either as a list or as a set of thumbnails, and so on. Double-click an entry, and it will break out into a separate window (handy if you want to type a longer note).

If you're using a device that doesn't have the Evernote client installed (say, a netbook), you can use the Web version instead. It looks very much like the computer client: lists of notebooks and tags on the left, your list of notes in the middle, and the content of the currently highlighted note on the right. It works like the client as well; for example, you can break out a note in its own window. However, you don't have as many options for tweaking the interface.

Evernote vs. Springpad

Evernote's Web application has a very similar interface to that of its local client, with a few less features.

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In the free version, the ads are in the lower left-hand corner of the application.

Springpad

Like Evernote, Springpad organizes its notes into notebooks and lets you further classify them using tags. Unlike Evernote, Springpad offers entry types depending on what you're saving, and lets you completely hide everything but the notebook you're working on.

The home page displays icons for each of your notebooks, including a default notebook called, appropriately, "All My Stuff" and another for shared material called "Friends Stuff." If you want to access all your data, click on "All My Stuff" -- otherwise, you can simply go to whatever notebook you want. (Unlike with Evernote, items can belong to more than one notebook.) That notebook then becomes the default; for example, if you're in your "Work" notebook, anything you clip from the Web or enter directly into Springpad will go into the Work notebook unless you specify otherwise.

Evernote vs. Springpad

Springpad lets you put your items into one or more notebooks.

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Once you click on a notebook, you are put into the main interface, where most of the space is taken up by a listing of all your entries; they can be sorted by a number of factors, including date added, name, date modified, etc. On the left side is a panel that lets you filter your listing by type (note, bookmark, movie, task, etc.) or by whatever tags you've created. You can also search using a box in the upper-right corner. The left-hand panel also lets you know if you have any alerts -- for example, if one of your tasks is overdue.

Evernote vs. Springpad

You can filter your item list by clicking on a type or by doing a search.

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In the listing, you see the item title; you also get a number of icons that let you flag it, add a notebook or tag, toggle its privacy status or delete it. To see the entire item, click on the title -- the single entry will then take up the space where the listing was before.

Ads in Springpad appear mostly in the more formatted, commercial entries (for example, one "product" note listing a printer included a price comparison listing from Pricegrabber), and the company obviously has relationships with a variety of commercial entities, such as Amazon and Netflix. In addition, a recent blog entry mentioned that users will probably be seeing more "relevant" ads in future.

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