602Pro PC Suite 2001 wins every price war; it doesn't cost a dime to download. But 602Pro offers only two productivity apps--a word processor and a spreadsheet--and makes you pay for some extra features, such as mail merge. Although, at a mere 40MB, 602Pro may seem ideal for broke folks with tiny hard drives, skip this pseudosuite and get StarOffice. If you're willing to pay, we suggest Microsoft Works Suite 2002 instead. 602Pro PC Suite 2001 wins every price war; it doesn't cost a dime to download. But 602Pro offers only two productivity apps--a word processor and a spreadsheet--and makes you pay for some extra features, such as mail merge. Although, at a mere 40MB, 602Pro may seem ideal for broke folks with tiny hard drives, skip this pseudosuite and get StarOffice. If you're willing to pay, we suggest Microsoft Works Suite 2002 instead.
Free download; inexpensive CD
To get 602Pro for free, simply download the 13MB file. But if your bandwidth is tight, you can order a CD for $10. 602Pro's otherwise straightforward installation doesn't let you choose one or two apps from the small suite, but that's no big deal, since the program needs just 40MB of drive space. To add any extra-feature packs (more on these later), you must return to the download site. Sadly, if you're running a Linux or a Mac system, you won't find compatible versions, though Linux users can turn to StarOffice.
Word processor and spreadsheet, but not much else
Unfortunately, you'll make some sacrifices for this free suite, and you might end up forking over some cash, too. 602Pro packs only a word processor (602Text), a spreadsheet (602Tab), a plain-Jane image editor (602Photo), and a picture organizer (602Album). Only the first two qualify as productivity applications. Needless to say, 602Pro doesn't stack up well against other the alternative suites: both StarOffice and GobeProductive feature a presentation maker, and Ability Office offers a database. You'll have to pay $30 for a PC Suite Plus add-on if you want features that come standard in other suites, such as a thesaurus or mail merge.
What anchors this suite is 602Text. This word processor imitates Microsoft Word in many ways; its menu titles, for instance, are identical to Word's, as are most of its keyboard shortcuts. 602Text even matched Word in our simple speed test. Scrolling through an extralong document, both Word and 602Text clocked 1 minute, 27 seconds. 602Text has powerful writing features: edit tracking lets you see changes made by others, and a format brush makes it easy to "paint" text with a format you copy from elsewhere in the document, something only Word (in Works 2002) also offers. But 602Text lacks macros, autocorrect, autoformat, and tables that include spreadsheetlike formulas and functions.
602Tab suffers from similar limitations. The spreadsheet app's at-home or small-business worksheets can handle simple number-crunching chores for calculating loan payments or tallying up inventory costs. It lacks macros, can't pull data from a Web site, and offers a limited number of chart styles (just one-sixth as many as Excel 2002 does).
Not much Web sense
Don't go looking for extras in this freebie. 602Pro is no-frills all the way. It lacks bundled templates for checkbook-balancing spreadsheets and documents with resume formatting. Nor is 602Pro Web savvy. It saves Text documents and Tab worksheets in HTML format, but it does so sloppily. For example, when 602Pro converted one test document with two tables and two charts, it left out the charts.
Even file format compatibility is iffy. 602Text and 602Tab can open Word and Excel documents, respectively, as well as save files to those formats, but you won't like what you get. 602Text converts the text adequately, if you don't count the wacky pagination, the missing page numbers, and the off-kilter margins. Ugh.
Free program; pricey support
602Pro may be free to download (minus those pesky $30 add-ons), but it really soaks you on technical support. You'll pay $50 for a year's e-mail support privileges and an astonishing $100 for 30 days of telephone support, available only 8 hours each weekday. 602Pro offers the puniest of online support databases, and your only other support options include user-to-user message boards and a lightly-stocked FAQ file. For the price of support alone, you could purchase the heftier, infinitely more impressive Microsoft Works.