Chemref Pocket PC Software Review Updated


Product Requirements:
Any PocketPC
Uses 1016K

Updated 02/05/02 to reflect the additional features
found in Chemref Advanced, version 2.0. All remarks concerning these additions
are in RED.

One of the things I like about being a non-traditional student is the
fact that I am not as intimidated by my professors as I was the first
time I started college. I actually take the time to talk to them, and
they seem to see me as more of a serious student, one that is there because I
really want an education – not just because it’s the next step after high-school

My major is Animal Science which, as the name implies, means plenty of time
spent in science courses. I had no problem with my Genetics and Biology classes,
but I had a slightly irrational fear about taking Chemistry.

I believe that this was partly because I was worried that I would have to
memorize the entire periodic table of elements, as well as all of each
individual element’s properties. I can blame this lack of desire to memorize
on the Plant ID class I took a couple semesters ago – we had to
learn the characteristics and Latin names for over 200 grasses and forbs. We
also had to be able to identify these plants by sight,  either in the field
or dried out and placed on a collection board,  not my idea of fun.

I had managed to delay taking the first of my three required Chemistry
classes until this semester – but it finally got to the point that not having
them was keeping me from taking the courses I wanted to take.

On the first day of Chemistry class, our professor made a big point of saying
that we would need to be sure that we had a good calculator available to us when
we took all of our exams. Knowing that most of the college students own some
kind of large scientific calculator, I later asked him which type he recommended
(I figured that I could find an equivalent to download to my Pocket PC). Imagine
my shock when he told me that he used a Handspring Visor with a periodic table
program installed. He also had a different program that included a molecular
mass calculator. It didn’t take much for me to get the hint.

I did a search at PocketGear, and
three different periodic table programs were displayed. A quick comparison of
the available features for each quickly showed me that
Chemref by
The PDA Initiative was the one
that would get my money.

Robert J. Lessard wrote this program while he was working on his Masters
thesis in Analytical Chemistry last year. In an e-mail last week, he told me "I
had recently migrated from the Palm camp and there [weren’t] any good periodic
table programs so I thought I would whip one up."

What Robert managed to "whip up" is one of the most feature rich and easy to
use periodic table programs available for the Pocket PC platform.

When you first enter the Chemref program, you will start on
this picture of the periodic table, with the element H (hydrogen) featured.
You can choose whatever element you are interested in by tapping on the

 Here are views for two different elements, Pt (platinum) and
Ne (Neon). As you can see, Chemref lists the following information for each:

  • The atomic number of the element
  • The mass of the element in grams per mol
  • The state of the element under standard conditions
  • The Family of the periodic table to which the element belongs
  • The electro-negativity of the element
  • The oxidation states of the element
  • The electron configuration of the element at ground state
  • The type of crystal structure the element has
  • The density of the element in grams per milliliter
  • The atomic radius of the element in picometers
  • The 1st ionization energy of the element in KJ / mol
  • Melting Point of the element in Kelvin
  • Boiling Point of the element in Kelvin

These would have been plenty of features to offer, but Robert was not
satisfied with stopping there.


By tapping the Tools menu, you are offered the choice of
using the included molecular weight calculator, viewing a detailed
list of organic functional groups, or of using a mole <–> mass

In Chemref  Advanced (v2.0), a
couple new features have also been added to the menu, as you can see by the
second picture. The program has been expanded to include a Solution
Concentration Calculator
, a very detailed listing of Physical
with symbol, value and units, and Periodic Trend Analysis


Here you can see that I have entered the formula H2SO4.
By pushing the button marked "Calculate Molecular Mass," Chemref will
recognize what I have written, and then return with the formula’s molecular

I can even take it a step further, and go back to the Tools menu,
and tap on the mole <–> mass converter option. To make this even simpler,
Robert built the program so that it would retrieve the figure from your
previous calculations should you need it, by tapping the bar that says "or
click here for mass from molecular mass calc."

(FYI – the text is not centered on my bar because I have changed all of
the fonts on my PPC to Frutiger Linotype – it will appear centered on your

You can then enter the number of moles, or by using the drop-down menu
choose grams, and the converter will figure the amount of grams or moles
your number will convert to. Pretty handy, right?!

A detailed list of organic groups is also included. I am
sure I will find this handy when I take Organic Chemistry in the future…

The new Concentration Calculator
enables you to enter a formula with its concentration of mol/L and a variety
of different volume measurements. Chemref Advanced will then tell you the
Molar Mass (g/mol) of the Formula along with the Weight in grams of the

The Physical Constants screen
allows you to select the type of constant desired from a pull-down menu, you
can also select the type of specific constant from a drop down menu. Once
you have done these two steps, a symbol, value and unit will be displayed.
You can also use the Periodic property
trend analysis plotting tool in the Periodic Trend Analysis screen to
plot various properties of the elements. Here I am showing the density of
lead in relation to the other elements.

Is Chemref perfect? No. There is one complaint that I can picture some people
having with it right away. The screen that shows the periodic table is tiny, and
the symbols are cramped together. For this reason alone, those with poor
eyesight might get very frustrated. Since I like being able to see the entire
table laid out before me, without having to scroll through various screens, the
cramped screen is something that I have learned to live with.

If I could add a few features to the program, I would like to see an
alphabetized drop down menu that would allow you to quickly locate a particular
element. I can see this as being very handy for those that are either unfamiliar
with the periodic table, or for those that have trouble deciphering the tiny

Okay, here is just one more area in
which Robert listened to me and implemented one of my suggestions. As you
can see, there is now a drop down menu that you can access by tapping the
scroll buttons next to the displayed element…and yes, they are in
alphabetical order. This is available in both the Basic and Advanced

I would also like to see a list all the common polyatomic ions with their
names and their charges, and maybe even an activity series of the metals (in
relation to displacement). I can live without these enhancements – but since
Robert asked what I would like in a future version, I figured it wouldn’t hurt
anything to ask. :0)

Robert says that he is "going to produce a new version soon and [he] would
like to get as much feedback as possible from users as to what features would be
most desirable." So if you can think of anything else you would like to see in
this type of program, be sure to send
an e-mail!

As you can see with this new Advanced version, Robert
has added features that as he states, make Chemref  "the perfect tool
for the university student, researcher or scientist that would benefit from
having the most common information on all the elements at their fingertips.

I have been very satisfied with Chemref, and I can’t recommend it highly

Price:  $12.00 for the basic version, $20 for
the Advanced

Most feature-rich periodic table I have found for the Pocket PC
Includes a Molecular Weight calculator
Includes a Mole <–> Mass Converter

Very small graphics on periodic table page may be hard for some to


Product Information

Manufacturer:PDA Initiative
Posted in: Windows Phone
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