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.
OS/2 2.0, for PC compatible with at least a 386SX processor, 4MB of memory, EGA display and a 60MB hard disk. Recommend 6MB of memory and a VGA display. $195 (or free upgrade from previous versions of OS/2 until July 31). From International Business Machines Corp., Old Orchard Road, Armonk, N.Y. 10504. (800) 342-6672.
Version 2.0 of OS/2 makes this operating system a real competitor to DOS and Windows. And that's for all sorts of PC owners, not just corporate specialists and networking experts. It is a bit rough and demands plenty of memory and processor power but offers real multitasking, faster processing and more protection from crashes than Windows.
The biggest downside is the relative lack of applications programs that run under OS/2. But some of the big names are available for it, and it can run DOS and Windows 3.0 programs.
Performance: 3 computers
Ease of use: 2 computers
Value: 3 computers
These are 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.
For teachers or club presidents who need to print awards or banners, here's a trio of programs that will run on almost any IBM or compatible, with or without hard drives, monochrome or color. Some have been around shareware bulletin boards for a few years and may look primitive by today's super VGA standards, but they still do the job quite nicely.
Award Master -- Enter the names of the recipient and the presenter, then select an award. Most Valuable Player, Fishing Fanatic, Computer Whiz, World Class Mom and Dad, or make up your own. Then select graphics, fonts and borders, tack on a blue ribbon, golf trophy, even a smiling face. Pick a border, view your handiwork on your monitor, then print it on your dot matrix printer. (If you have a laser printer, ask me for a shareware program called DPLMAS, which will make your laser printer think it's a dot matrix.)
Award Ware -- A bit more basic than Award Master, this program allows you to create a license, a letterhead, a coupon, a memo or any number of awards for almost any occasion. While you can't preview your handiwork, you can enjoy the screeching of your dot matrix printer (or laser, with the help of DPLMAS) and present your awards when the time comes.
Sign and Banner Maker -- Another old standby, this shareware program will help you make a sign for a lost dog, make banners to promote team spirit or proclaim IT'S A GIRL! complete with appropriate graphics. Lots of graphic clip art here, and lots of opportunities to flex your creative muscles as far as graphics, fonts and borders are concerned.
You've probably seen the product of this menu-driven program around the neighborhood or your kids' schools.
Like the rest of this week's offerings, Sign and Banner Maker is simple to set up and learn. You won't be stunned by the graphics, but you won't be ashamed of them, either.
(For copies of the three awards, signs and banners programs, send $10 to Shareware, P.O. Box 7037, Long Beach, Calif. 90807. Phone (310) 595-6870. Fax (310) 426-0110. For DPLMAS, which allows you to print dot matrix formats on your laser printer, send $4. A shareware catalog on a disk is $2. Please specify 5.25- or 3.5-inch disks.)