Here are summaries of some recent Computing product reviews. Each product is rated on a scale of one to four. One computer indicates poor; four is excellent:
Retire ASAP, for PC-compatible with 640 kilobytes RAM, a hard disk and DOS 3.0 or later. $99. From Calypso Software Corp., 123 Lake St. S., Kirkland, Wash. 98033. (800) 225-8246.
Forecast Pro for Windows, for PC-compatible running Windows; math co-processor recommended. $495. From Business Forecast Systems Inc., 68 Leonard St., Belmont, Mass. 02178. (617) 484-5050.
Retire ASAP asks you what you have now and what you'll want at retirement, then tells you what you'll need to save to get there. It handles all sorts of various savings schemes and Social Security rules that a simple spreadsheet model cannot.
Forecast Pro offers a library of advanced statistical formulas and models to predict the future from any set of values: prices, costs, even temperatures.
Performance: 3 computers
Ease of use: 3 computers
Value: 3 computers
Performance: 4 computers
Ease of use: 2 computers
Value: 3 computers
These are reviews of shareware programs for IBM and compatible computers.
Desktop Graphics -- As computer monitors and printers go up in quality and down in price, many computer owners experiment with desktop publishing. Virtually all the major word processing software programs allow a user to incorporate graphics in any text material.
One program that will enable you to view and print both color and black-and-white graphics is VUIMAGE from Offe Enterprises in Naperville, Ill. The current version -- 3.30 -- works with all the popular video display cards, from Hercules through CGA, EGA, MCGA, VGA, SuperVGA and Tandy.
It lets you adjust image brightness and contrast, zoom in and out of the picture, put the picture in a window on your screen, and print the image in just about any size you like. After you've evaluated the program and decide to use it regularly, your $40 registration fee will bring you a printed manual and telephone support.
You can find the program in compressed form as VUIM330.ZIP on some of the larger computer bulletin boards.
Questmaker -- Intrigued by the idea of animating pictures? Happily, there's an inexpensive shareware program to do the job in conjunction with a graphics editor like Paint-By-Pixel from Colony Software in Douglasville, Ga.
Questmaker from Marietta Co-opware in Marietta, Ga., is an adventure game construction kit. With skill and patience, you can create games in which characters look and move like the ones in commercial game software. Registration costs $20. Look for version 2.20. Colony's Paint-By-Pixel program has a $20 registration fee.
(For copies of the desktop graphics programs, send $15 to Shareware, P.O. Box 7037, Long Beach, Calif. 90807. Phone (310) 595-6870. Fax (310) 426-0110. For copies of Questmaker and Paint-By-Pixel, send $8 plus tax. A catalog on a disk costs $2. Please specify 5.25- or 3.5-inch disks.)