Here are summaries of recent Computing product reviews. Each is rated on a scale of one to four, with one computer
indicating poor and four indicating excellent:
GeoWorks Pro, for PC-compatibles with at least 512 kilobytes random-access memory, 3 megabytes hard disk space and a mouse. $199. From GeoWorks, 2150 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, Calif. 94704. (510) 644-0883.
GeoWorks Pro could have been a competitor to Windows. It is a faster, less hardware-hungry, more intuitive graphic user interface for the PC. Its fatal flaw is that the programs that come with it -- word processor, data-base manager, modem communications and so on -- are all that's available. Other than Borland's Quattro Pro spreadsheet, which is in development, no independent programs have been written to run under it.
Performance: 4 computers
Ease of use: 4 computers
Value: 1 computer
These are reviews of shareware programs for IBM and compatible computers.
If you think that all you need to start a business is a storefront and lots of capital, you're not thinking in the real world. Real world means you have a powerful PC and lots of software. The folks at Expressware don't require powerful PCs for their try-before-you-buy business software. In fact, all they require is that you know how to get to your floppy drive to install their software on your hard disk. And if you don't have a hard disk, you can run their software from floppies.
What really sets their business software apart is the online help, easy access to manuals right on screen and a user-friendly menu system.
Consider these five business programs, which cost about $250 total:
File Express -- If your mailing list has more than 2 billion clients and you need more than 200 fields to enter data, you're out of luck here. But if those numbers sound good, you can transfer data between other spreadsheet and word-processing programs, and there's even a phone dialer available to handle any of your 2 billion contacts. Look for version 5.1 on bulletin boards.
ExpressCheck -- Like the other Expressware programs, ExpressCheck is a menu-driven, easy-to-use program. While it's not as fancy as some checkbook programs, such as Quicken, it's easy to use, and you can generate as many reports as your little accountant's heart desires. Look for version 4.04 on bulletin boards.
ExpressGraph -- With its online manual available in pop-up windows, ExpressGraph turns your data into line or bar graphs ** and as many varieties of pie charts as you can imagine. You've got your uncut, your exploded, your separated pie charts. Not to mention 3-D effects. Look for version 1.05 or higher.
On-Side -- You're going to want to print your charts, spreadsheets and other data, and you're going to want to do it sideways, so everyone at the weekly finance meeting gets a crick in the neck. That's where On-Side comes in handy. Look for version 2.0 or higher.
ExpressCalc -- With its Lotuslike look, ExpressCalc crunches numbers as fast as your PC can digest them. Naturally, you can exchange data with File Express and ExpressGraph, and, of course, you can print your spreadsheets sideways. Look for version 4.10 or higher.
(For copies of all five business programs on seven disks, send $20 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 specify 5.25- or 3.5-inch disks.)