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:
Technical Handbooks on Disk, for PC or compatible running Mathcad 3.1, which requires Windows 3.1 (I recommend at least a 386SX with 2 megabytes of random-access memory and a 20-megabyte hard disk). $99 each. From MathSoft Inc., 201 Broadway, Cambridge, Mass. 02139-1017. 1-(800)-MATHCAD.
AutoCAD Release 12, for PC or compatible with at least a 386 processor, a math co-processor, 8 megabytes of RAM and DOS 3.3 or later. Also available for Sun workstations. $3,750. From Autodesk Inc., 2320 Marinship Way, Sausalito, Calif. 94965. (800) 445-5415.
MathSoft's electronic handbooks combine the dynamic ability of Mathcad to instantly solve and graph math problems with the wealth of facts and equations found in two famous technical reference works. The performance is fine, the price great. This is the future of scientific and engineering texts and references.
AutoCAD Release 12 adds a graphic interface to make the program easier, speeds functions to make it snappier and integrates PostScript printing and the shading of 3-D models.
Performance: 3 computers
Ease of use: 4 computers
Value: 4 computers
AutoCAD Release 12
Performance: 3 computers
Ease of use: 3 computers
Value: 3 computers
These are reviews of shareware programs for IBM and compatible computers.
QEdit Advanced. Sammy E. Mitchell wrote QEdit for computer programmers who needed a simple way to edit text. Over the years Mitchell added features to what is now a shareware classic. And his company, SemWare, grew into a lean, efficient competitor to the giants in the word processing field.
The current QEdit -- QEdit Advanced, version 2.15 -- is both faster and easier to use than its big brothers among commercial word processors. Top-of-the-screen menus make it easy to search for text and replace it, to move blocks of type, to change margin settings, to compare documents in separate windows, to create macros to simplify repeated tasks and to print documents or portions of them.
ShareSpell. One feature QEdit lacks is a spelling checker. But shareware author Robert Bequette has created one that works beautifully from inside QEdit. Bequette's ShareSpell also works as a stand-alone program to check the spelling of any text file. It displays the text as it zips through it to check for spelling errors. When it spots a word it suspects is misspelled, it shows you where it occurs and gives you the option of replacing it from a list of suggested correct spellings or manually replacing it. Registration is $20 and, as with QEdit, you are on your honor to pay it if you keep using the program after a month's trial. The current version is available on computer bulletin boards as SS23B.ZIP.
(For copies of QEdit, ShareSpell and QEdit supplements, send $12 to Shareware, P.O. Box 7037, Long Beach, Calif. 90807. Phone (310) 595-6870. Fax (310) 426-0110. A catalog on a disk costs $2. Please indicate 5.25- or 3.5-inch disks.)