Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 review: Microsoft Office OneNote 2003

Priced at $99 (or $50 for students), OneNote 2003 is expensive for a utility that--let's face it--you may consider superfluous, especially considering that competitor EverNote makes most of the same, basic features available for free.

OneNote 2003 lets you spell-check your notes and insert audio and video clips as well.

Then again, OneNote offers some features not found in EverNote--a spelling checker, for instance. Like its counterpart in Microsoft Word, the spelling checker inserts squiggly red lines under likely misspelled words and lists potential corrections via a right-click menu. One might argue that notes don't need letter-perfect spelling, but then again, they do if you plan to share them with a workgroup.

OneNote also lets you add audio and video clips to notes; EverNote doesnÂ’t. For example, simply click the Record icon in OneNoteÂ’s upper-right corner, select Record Audio Only (for voice notes), and continue typing while adding voice comments to your document. Of course, youÂ’ll need a video camera, an external microphone, or a built-in mic to use these feature. We found the audio- and video-recording tools easy to use, if a bit superfluous. In most cases, it was easier to type additional comments rather than record video or voice notes.

We like the Note Flags feature, which lets you assign icons (To Do, Important, Question) to individual notes. By flagging notes, you remind yourself to act on them later. Think of Note Flags as the virtual equivalent of sticky notes.

In general, Microsoft technical assistance is good, but its support package for OneNote isn't as generous as we'd like. YouÂ’re allowed one free support query by e-mail or phone; after that, each help request costs $35. By comparison, EverNote users get free (if very slow) e-mail support, but no phone support.

The Microsoft Community Newsgroup is an inexpensive way to get tech help from other OneNote users.

The bargain alternative to paid support is the Microsoft Community Newsgroup for OneNote users, accessible via the companyÂ’s support site. We found that most help requests received a reply from one or more experienced users within a day.