Bento 2 is a $50 powerful but easy to use database for the Mac. It doesn't have all of the features of a professional database program like its big brother FileMaker Pro. For example, Bento is designed for a single user, not to be shared and updated by multiple users in an organization. But if you use a Mac and you need to create a database to keep track of just about anything for yourself, Bento 2 is a great fit. It is designed to look like iTunes, and is just as easy to use.
If you use Bento 2 on a Mac, then I strongly recommend that you spend $4.99 for the Bento iPhone app. It is a wonderful companion to Bento 2 and it reminds me, once again, how much my iPhone allows me to easily manage important information in my life and keep it always within reach. I see room for improvements in an update. For example, the app occasionally crashed on me (although I never lost any data so it was just a minor inconvenience) and the app was sometimes slow to respond. Also, while you can change the order in which fields are displayed, you cannot change the size or layout of the fields. It would be nice to have the ability to have a picture field take up a larger portion of the screen, have one field stretch across two lines, have two other fields share the same line, etc. But even this 1.0 version of the app is very useful and functional. If you use Bento 2, you will love this app.
If you don't use Bento 2 -- for example, if you use a PC instead of a Mac -- then you will have to spend a little more time to decide whether the Bento app is right for you. I say so for two reasons. First, while Bento is a jack of all trades, you might prefer a dedicated app that is specially designed for the task at hand. For example, instead of using Bento to track billable hours, you may be more happy with one of the many time tracking apps for the iPhone which have a layout customized for the task. There are also a large number of dedicated "To Do Items" apps that you might prefer. Having said that, the advantage of a true database app like Bento is that you can customize the fields to your heart's content. Not that any of us lawyers are control freaks. If you want to set up a database on your iPhone with complete control over the fields but you want something easy to start using quickly, then Bento would be a good choice even if you don't use Bento 2 on a Mac.
Second, while the Bento iPhone app is powerful enough to create a large and sophisticated database, doing so on an iPhone is inherently more cumbersome then using a computer with a large screen and keyboard. If you don't currently use any database program on your computer and if you use a Mac, then consider getting both Bento 2 and the Bento app. But if you already use another database program on your computer, such as Microsoft Access or FileMaker Pro, you should check out apps such as HanDBase Database Manager, FMTouch and Database Viewer Plus that sync with those other programs (but which I have not yet tried). Moreover, if use a Mac and want to track your books, DVDs, CDs or videogames, then you might be better off with the gorgeously designed Delicious Library program on your computer along with the companion iPhone app which will be released shortly.
Kudos to FileMaker for creating a great companion to Bento 2. I now want to create even more useful databases on my Mac with the knowledge that I can always keep the databases with me on my iPhone.