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:
1-2-3 for Windows, for PC or compatible running Windows 3.0 or later with at least 2MB of RAM, 5MB hard disk space and a Windows-compatible display. $595. From Lotus Development Corp., 55 Cambridge Parkway, Cambridge, Mass. 02142. (617) 577-8500.
1-2-3 for Windows contains all the features of the best DOS version of 1-2-3 -- Release 3 -- and puts them completely and smoothly into the Windows world. There you can still use your old 1-2-3 files, macros and commands or you can use the menus and icons of Windows to calculate, chart and sort with your spreadsheets. And Lotus even throws in a free copy of the Adobe Type Manager utility to make your displays and printouts prettier and easier to read.
1-2-3 for Windows
Rating: 3 computers
(These are reviews of shareware programs for IBM and compatible computers.)
TSR Download. If you own a Hewlett-Packard LaserJet or a DeskJet printer, you probably love its print quality and quiet operation. But you may long for more typefaces to add punch and variety.
One answer is font cartridges made by Hewlett-Packard and others. But they can cost hundreds of dollars and may require you to add memory to the printer. Another answer is soft fonts. As the name suggests, these come in the form of software rather than hardware. You load them onto your hard disk. Then you send them to your printer as you need them.
One disadvantage is that you have to reload them each time you turn on your printer. The big advantage is price.
TSR Download, the Soft Font Manager, is a shareware program for IBM and compatible computers that enables your PC to send a variety of fonts to your Hewlett- Packard LaserJet or DeskJet printer -- or to any printer that is compatible with them.
TSR Download works as a memory-resident program that takes up only 7K of RAM. After installing it and configuring it for your computer, you activate it from within your word processing program by hitting a combination of keys. You pick the fonts you want to have available to your printer. From within your word processing program, you then choose a font just before you print.
While the manual does a nice job of explaining how soft fonts work, you'll probably have to pull out your word-processor's manual to figure out how to benefit from this soft font program.
Printing from the DOS command line was a snap from the beginning.
Ultimately, you'll have to decide whether you want a font cartridge or prefer a software font program such as TSR Download. And that's the beauty of shareware. You can try TSR Download (look for version 2.9b or higher on your favorite bulletin board) for 20 days before registering it.
Elfring Soft Fonts, the folks who distribute TSR Download, offer registration, with a manual, for $45. Elfring also offers European fonts for your LaserJet or compatible printer. These are designed to print in German, French, Spanish and other foreign languages.
To register, write to Elfring Soft Fonts, P.O. Box 61, Wasco, Ill. 60183.
(For copies of these try-before-you-buy shareware programs, send $4 each to Shareware, P.O. Box 7037, Long Beach, Calif. 90807. A shareware catalog on a disk costs $1. Please specify 5 1/4 - or 3 1/2 -inch disks.)