Here are summaries of some recent Computing product reviews. Each product is rated on a scale of one to four, with one computer indicating poor and four indicating excellent:
Seiko Data Directory and PC-Link. $169.95. From Seiko Instruments USA, 2990 West Lomita Blvd., Torrance, Calif. 90505. (213) 517-7700.
The Data Directory is a pocket-size electronic organizer, sort of halfway between a calculator and a computer. It has a 3-line-by-19-character display, a QWERTY keyboard (though too small for typing) and runs for hundreds of hours on batteries. It has a built-in calculator function for simple arithmetic and can store up to 32 kilobytes' worth of memos and phone number listings. You can search through those memos and lists, protect them with passwords and use the PC-Link software and cable to move them to and from any personal computer.
The Data Directory is very easy to use but looks feeble beside some of the admittedly more expensive but complete hand-held organizers and personal computers of today, such as the Casio BOSS and Sharp Wizard (organizers) or Atari Portfolio, H-P 95LX and Poqet PC (computers).
Performance: 2 computers
Ease of use: 4 computers
Value: 2 computers
(These are reviews of shareware programs for IBM and compatible computers. Shareware programs are available from computer bulletin boards and computer clubs. Users try them, then pay a fee to register them if they decide to use them regularly.)
The Desktop Helper -- You won't find an icon cluttering up your desktop when you load The Desktop Helper. In fact, this Windows 3.0 utility can be called up simply by clicking a mouse button in the desktop area. From there you'll be able to call up any of the Windows accessories such as Write. It's up to you whether this convenience is worth the $17 registration fee. Try it, then if you like it, register it with Robert E. Alleger, 317 Monroe Ave., Edgewater Park, N.J. 08010.
Active Life for Windows -- The DOS version of this handy utility was reviewed a few months ago. If you're running Windows, it makes even more sense to install it on your hard disk, especially if your life revolves around a schedule and you don't have an army of secretaries penciling in all your appointments. As with the DOS version, Active Life for Windows will: plan your day, arrange your priorities, juggle your schedule, keep notes, dial your phone, sound an alarm when it's time to go to meetings, keep track of time spent on tasks, give you calendars, and remember your spouse's birthday (but it won't go out and buy a gift).
Look for version 1.5 on bulletin boards. If you decide to keep using the program, you'll need to register all three versions (DOS, Windows and OS/2) for $149.
There is also a network version, called 1 Team, for $295 for the first two users. Write to 1Soft Corp., P.O. Box 1320, Middletown, Calif. 95461. Or call (800) 326-4391.
(Copies of these programs for Windows -- "Doing Windows" -- are available for $14, plus tax for Californians. A catalog on a disk costs $1. Write to Shareware, P.O. Box 7037, Long Beach, Calif. 90807. Or call (213) 595-6870.)