Here are summaries of recent Computing product reviews...

REVIEWS

April 27, 1992|By Knight-Ridder Financial Service

Here are summaries of recent Computing product reviews. Each product is rated on a scale of one to four. One computer indicates poor; four indicate excellent:

Windows 3.1, for PC-compatible running DOS 3.1 or later with at least a 286 processor and 1 megabyte of memory. 386SX processor with 3 megabytes memory recommended. $149.95. From Microsoft Corp., One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Wash. 98052-6399. (206) 882-8080.

Rooms for Windows, for PC-compatible running Windows 3.0 or 3.1. $99. From XSoft, Xerox Corp., 3400 Hillview Ave., P.O. Box 10034, Palo Alto, Calif. 94303-0816. (800) 626-6775.

Windows 3.1 is faster and less likely to crash than 3.0. If you like Windows, those reasons are enough to pay the upgrade price. Improved performance on Novell NetWare networks will also be a crucial improvement to many system administrators. Other additions, such as Object Linking and Embedding (OLE), TrueType and Multimedia extensions, will also catch some people's attention, though for most of us they are more indicators of the future than useful tools today. Remember when you're considering Windows that the Mac, DesqView and OS/2 are all practical alternatives.

Rooms for Windows is not an interface revolution. It's a useful utility for some Windows owners. The program lets you set up and save Windows programs and files as you need them for projects. This makes it easier to quickly set up or switch between all the various pieces of Windows software you use for one or more projects. Learning the language of "windows," "rooms," "suites," "doors" and so on takes a little time but will be worth the trouble for those who spend too much time starting, moving and quitting Windows programs. It does not have the automation language of Hewlett-Packard's NewWave, however, or the true multitasking of OS/2.

Windows 3.1

Performance: 3 computers

Ease of use: 3 computers

Value: 2 computers

Room for Windows

Performance: 3 computers

Ease of use: 3 computers

Value: 3 computers

Reviews of shareware programs for IBM and compatible computers. The programs are available from bulletin boards and computer clubs. Users try them, then pay a fee to register if they decide to use them regularly.

ECON. Of the many forms of gambling, the stock market is just one way to throw your money away. Now your PC can help. With Econ: Econometric Stock Market Forecasting Models, you enter the numbers from eight economic indicators once a month. From those you get economic forecasts that are supposed to help you decide where to invest your money.

Your mattress isn't an option, but based on personal experience, it should be. If you're interested in how well ECON predicted past bull and bear markets, you can look back at data and predictions for the past quarter century. Originally a commercial program called Compass, ECON is now available as shareware. There's nothing fancy about this program, but if you're looking for help with your investments, this could be a useful tool.

Registration costs $40 from DC Econometrics, 2920 Mount Royal Court, Fort Collins, Colo. 80526.

BLANK-IT. With all the creative screen-saving programs available, Blank-It is sort of like the old VW Beetle. Simple, taking only 1K of RAM and easily installed and used, Blank-It lets you blank your monitor with a hot key, or after a certain amount of keyboard or mouse inactivity.

Unblanking it is just as easy. No fish or light shows here; just a clean, blank screen. Look for version 5.1a or higher on bulletin boards.

Registration costs $15 from Rhode Island Soft Systems Inc., P.O. Box 748, Woonsocket, R.I. 02895.

(For copies of these programs, send $4 each to Shareware, P.O. Box 7037, Long Beach, Calif. 90807. A catalog on a disk costs $2. Specify 5.25- or 3.5-inch disks. Phone (310) 595-6870. Fax (310) 426-0110.)

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