Email aside, a service called CompanionLink offers a range of methods for synchronizing your contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes between a PC and your Android smartphone. CompanionLink works with Microsoft Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes, Novell GroupWise, and a handful of other common desktop utilities. It can sync your data via Wi-Fi, a direct USB connection, or over the Internet by linking up directly to your Google account. CompanionLink costs $40 for the Outlook edition and $70 for the Lotus Notes or GroupWise version. Note that the Google sync option will send larger businesses' IT groups into fits, as it circumvents their security controls by forwarding email and other data to the unsecured Google service; for them, CompanionLink offers a secure cloud-based forwarding server product instead for $10 per user per month.
If your Outlook calendar is all you need to keep in sync, Google's own free Calendar Sync program may be the tool for you. Google Calendar Sync runs on your PC -- but not Mac -- and, as its name suggests, provides an ongoing two-way sync between your Outlook calendar and your Google Calendar (which is by default linked to your Android smartphone). The program is free to download and use. Like CompanionLink, though, its use will cause security conniptions at many organizations.
Regardless of what synchronization tool you do or don't use, you may want an Android widget to provide easy access to your calendar from your smartphone's home screen. François Delandes' €1.50 Pure Calendar widget is a highly customizable app that puts your upcoming events and appointments right at your fingertips. You can select from different sizes and configure the widget's look to your liking. You can also actively scroll through your calendar within the widget if you use it with an advanced launcher like ADW or LauncherPro.
Notes and lists Catch.com's free Catch Notes is a great tool for on-the-go note-taking and organization. Catch provides an easy-to-use interface for jotting down messages and reminders: You can tap out a note on your smartphone's keyboard, speak a note via Android's built-in voice recognition, record an audio note to be saved for future playback, or capture a visual note via your smartphone's camera. All of your notes are saved into the app and can be synced to the Web and other devices using your Google account or an account with Catch.com (which costs $5 per month).