PersonalBrain Pro 4.5 review

PersonalBrain expresses individual topics as nodes in a mind map and shows a 3D representation of the relationships between topics. This mind map is referred to as a Brain. Topics in PersonalBrain parlance are called thoughts. Main thoughts (Parent thoughts) can have Child thoughts, Siblings (thoughts related to the child thoughts), and Jumps (links to different thoughts).

To create a Brain, you start by entering a thought and begin connecting it together with other thoughts. A thought can be as simple as a person’s name or as rich as a photo of that person. Any thought can be related to any other thought and to as many thoughts as necessary. That means you can take different paths to the same thought, which is not unlike the way people really think. Thoughts can include styled notes, attached files, web pages, and even applications, turning the Brain into a centralised hub for all of your activities. Click on a thought and it becomes the main thought with all of its related thoughts surrounding it.

You can share your Brain with others, either by exporting it as basic HTML or as a SiteBrain, which uses XML and Ajax technologies to provide browser-based dynamic navigation. Unfortunately, there’s no support for importing and exporting common outline formats such as OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language). However, you can copy and paste tab-delimited outlines from Word and Excel into PersonalBrain, where they can then become the basis of more sophisticated mind-maps. And you can also export these structures.

PersonalBrain comes in three versions: a basic free version, a Core Edition, and a Pro Edition. If you just need a general organiser to clarify and sort your thoughts, the free version will suffice. If your needs include a large number of thoughts to manage, file attachments, advanced searching capabilities, templates, and more, the Core Edition is for you. The Pro Edition, reviewed here, contains web sharing, calendaring, printing and more advanced capabilities.

OUR VERDICT

PersonalBrain 4.5 provides a powerful, innovative non-linear capability. Its closest competitor, MindJet’s MindManager 7, has a more Mac-like interface but imposes more structure on your mind maps. Being able to associate any thought with another in a free-form fashion, and being able to zoom in on exactly the information you’re looking for, will help you uncover hidden gems of knowledge in your mountain of information.

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