HolidayBuyer's Guide

Application Reviews

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Adobe After Effects CS4

Adobe After Effects CS4

Adobe Soundbooth CS4

Adobe Soundbooth CS4

Adobe Fireworks CS4

Adobe Fireworks CS4

Norton Internet Security 2009

Norton Internet Security 2009 hits all the right security notes and its superior protection technologies might even win back some jaded anti-Symantec folks, though for some technical support may continue to frustrate

Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 Professional

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 isn't perfect, but it's the best dictation software available. We don't find this upgrade necessary for the most basic dictation, although new features may benefit heavily accented English speakers and those who rely heavily on voice commands.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009 provides adequate protection, but the program itself could use some work in telling the user what's going on.

Editors' Choice

Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro

This update should be worthwhile for security-minded businesses and creative firms. With Acrobat 9, Adobe brings new Web relevance to print-ready PDFs by enabling embedded video and animation. Forms, security, and overall ease of use are also enhanced.

ESET NOD32 3.0 Antivirus System Windows

Eset NOD32 3.0 finally gets its interface right and, along with high-rated performance among independent testing labs, deserves consideration on your desktop.

Corel WordPerfect X4

The Corel WordPerfect Office X4 suite best fits those who prefer traditional interfaces for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. We found the features rich, but the execution sometimes clumsy.

Mozilla Thunderbird 2

Mozilla Thunderbird 2 is a fine, free, extensible e-mail client and a solid alternative to pricey Microsoft Outlook 2007 or the free Windows Live Mail.

Adobe Photoshop Express Web

Though there's a lot to like about Adobe's first stab at online photo editing and sharing, however, you probably want to wait until the company fixes a few problems with the beta before uploading scads of photographs to Adobe Photoshop Express.

Norton 360 2.0

A near-perfect all-in-one solution for brand new PCs, Norton 360 v2 may be hard to install and run on legacy machines. However, don't count on Symantec's time-consuming and expensive technical support for help.

H&R Block TaxCut Online 2007

H&R Block TaxCut Online is a relatively affordable and well-designed Web-based tax-preparation software, although we found TurboTax more thorough.

H&R Block TaxCut Home & Business + Federal + State 2007

H&R Block TaxCut is relatively affordable and well-designed tax-prep software, although we found TurboTax's interview to be more direct and thorough.

Intuit TurboTax 2007 Home & Business

It's not perfect, but if you're brave enough to manage your own taxes, then TurboTax 2007 is Intuit's best tax application yet.

Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 Special Media Edition

Office for Mac 2008 may be the best pick for business users, but most people can get by with less costly alternatives.

Ad-Aware 2007

Spyware has evolved rapidly over the last few years, but Ad-Aware 2007 seems slow and has fallen behind the times.

Norton Internet Security 2008

While Symantec's protection is solid, the overall user experience within Norton Internet Security 2008 could be much, much better. Not all the features work together, and the program could use fewer system resources. We can also do without the addition of paid services within the technical support section.

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