Application Reviews

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System Mechanic 6 Professional

System Mechanic 6 Professional offers the best package of utilities for optimizing and protecting your hard drive, but the software's lack of documentation makes it poorly suited for the average computer user.

Iolo System Mechanic 4.0 Professional

System Mechanic 4.0 Professional offers a better selection of tools and technical support than Norton SystemWorks Professional does.

Net Nanny 4.0

Net Nanny's default setting filters fewer naughty sites than any major blocking package, but it's by far the easiest to customize and use. Unless you need CyberSitter's strict site filtering, go with Net Nanny.

Microsoft Works 8

Works 8.0 is ideal for technophobes and Luddites who need an extremely simple interface for their home-computing chores.

Microsoft Word 2007

If you're ready to let go of old habits from previous versions of Word and want to make sleeker-looking documents, Microsoft Word 2007 is worth the upgrade. However, less-expensive alternatives handle its core features without the clutter.

Microsoft Digital Image Pro 10.0

On the expensive side but easy to use and ideal for turning photos into creative projects.

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac

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

Editors' Choice
$79.99 MSRP

Norton 360

For home and student use, we think Norton 360 represents the best value for ease of use, tools offered, and overall system performance. We recommend it over McAfee Total Protection and Microsoft Windows Live OneCare.

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

QuickBooks Point of Sale 4.0

The well-designed QuickBooks Point of Sale Pro 4.0 is a cash register on steroids--a hardware and software system for managing a retail business.

Intuit QuickBooks 2009

Intuit QuickBooks Premier 2009 keeps the program's well-designed, intuitive interface, while adding a few new features. It's a worthy upgrade for people serious about online banking, and it remains the best accounting program for small business owners. However, Intuit should be more generous with customer support, particularly for setup issues.

Editors' Choice
$399.95 MSRP

QuickBooks 2006

QuickBooks Premier 2006 is the best upgrade in years. Its slick new interface is the best in small-business accounting, and its accounting toolkit is easy to learn. Small but growing businesses should buy it.

QuickBooks Simple Start 2005

QuickBooks Simple Start is easy to learn, but the lack of budgeting, payroll, and Excel-import tools limits its usefulness. We recommend a more powerful accounting app, such as QuickBooks.

Editors' Choice
$19.99 at Amazon

TurboTax 2005

Intuit TurboTax Premier 2005 is the best ease-of-use choice for filers with complex returns. If you have investment, rental, and small-business income--and you hate paying usurious accountant fees--buy this program.

Editors' Choice
$59.95 MSRP

TurboTax Deluxe 2008 Federal + State

TurboTax 2008 is the most expensive tax app on the market, but it's also fast, complete, and straightforward. If finishing quickly is your goal, the extra cost is worth it. If you anticipate wanting live help support, look into TaxCut.

Sonic MyDVD Studio Deluxe 5.0

Home media buffs will find what they need in this versatile and stable suite for authoring and editing DVDs and CDs, but pros may want more.

Macromedia Dreamweaver 8.0

Faster, easier to use, and more powerful than the previous version, Dreamweaver 8 is a worthy upgrade for professionals, but amateurs should stick with a less complicated app, such as HomeSite.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11

While there are a handful of new capabilities in the update to Adobe's entry-level image editor, the most noticeable is a more readable interface intended for middle-aged eyes.

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