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Corel WordPerfect Family Pack 4.0 review:

Corel WordPerfect Family Pack 4.0

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MSRP: $89.00

Corel WordPerfect Family Pack 4.0

(Part #: WPFP4ENG0) Released: 15 Jul 2002
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The Good Costs less than Microsoft Works Suite 2003; includes a top-flight spreadsheet; Task Manager organizes templates.

The Bad Missing a database and an address book; subpar support isn't available late evenings or weekends; mix of software is better for small businesses than families.

The Bottom Line WordPerfect Family Pack lacks important at-home elements and seven-day support, but it'll do as an alternative small- or home-office suite.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.0 Overall

Competing with Microsoft is tough. Corel WordPerfect Family Pack 4.0, while $26 less (after rebate) than Microsoft Works Suite 2003, isn't family-oriented enough to tempt most at-home users the way Works does. Family Pack lacks a database and an address book, limps by with an inferior task launcher, and provides substandard support. But if you need a sophisticated spreadsheet--which Works lacks--Family Pack is the cheapest way to get one. In fact, contrary to its name, Family Pack makes an excellent and inexpensive small-business suite: its word-processing, spreadsheet, and antivirus programs cost about half as much as you'd pay if you decided to upgrade from an older, full-fledged office suite to WordPerfect Office or Microsoft Office XP. Competing with Microsoft is tough. Corel WordPerfect Family Pack 4.0, while $26 less (after rebate) than Microsoft Works Suite 2003, isn't family-oriented enough to tempt most at-home users the way Works does. Family Pack lacks a database and an address book, limps by with an inferior task launcher, and provides substandard support. But if you need a sophisticated spreadsheet--which Works lacks--Family Pack is the cheapest way to get one. In fact, contrary to its name, Family Pack makes an excellent and inexpensive small-business suite: its word-processing, spreadsheet, and antivirus programs cost about half as much as you'd pay if you decided to upgrade from an older, full-fledged office suite to WordPerfect Office or Microsoft Office XP.

Giga-glutton
Like Microsoft Works Suite 2003, Family Pack has a footprint bigger than Godzilla. You'll give up a gigabyte to install this behemoth. Unlike Works, however, Family Pack doesn't install everything in the suite automatically: you have to dig out four CDs from the box to install the core applications--WordPerfect 10.0 and Quattro Pro 10.0--as well as the secondary software, such as the encyclopedia, the photo editor, and the speech-recognition program. Mac owners need not apply, nor should Windows 95 folks; you need Windows 98 (or newer) to run this suite.

Cheaper than Works...
Productivity suites bundle a whole lot of software, and Family Pack's no different. For your $89, you get the WordPerfect 10.0 word processor, the Quattro Pro 10.0 spreadsheet, Britannica Ready Reference Encyclopedia, Picture Publisher, Dragon NaturallySpeaking Essentials, Avery DesignPro, and McAfee VirusScan. The mix is similar to that of Works Suite 2003, but Family Pack substitutes Works's database, address book, personal financial manager, trip mapper, and calendar with an antivirus utility (McAfee), a paper project designer (Avery), and a speech-recognition program (Dragon). The Family Pack also costs $26 less than Works--$69 after you mail in the $20 rebate.

...but not as integrated or slick
Family Pack's bundled applications are nowhere near as integrated as the ones in Works Suite 2003. You won't find a flashy Web-style window like the one in Works that serves as your starting point for the day by displaying your calendar and appointments. Instead, Family Pack uses the WordPerfect Task Manager as the launchpad for Family Pack's applications template organizer. These templates--ready-to-use documents and files--are grouped into categories such as Financial Planning, Home & Family, and Communication. Click Communication, for instance, and several links enumerate your template options: Letters, Faxes, and Resumes, to name a few. Each category includes one or more templates, which display thumbnail previews so that you know what the document will look like before you bother opening it. (You don't need to buy Family Pack to get most of these templates, though; you can download them from Corel's OfficeCommunity site and use them with WordPerfect or Quattro Pro.)

Sadly, the Task Manager lacks some elements that are crucial to a family suite. It doesn't list your recently used documents (Works shows them in a separate tabbed section) or let you add new Web links to the program's lists of default links, which include Financial Planning. Nor does it let you add other applications to its launch list. As far as we're concerned, with its its interface and flexibility, Works' Task Launcher far outshines Family Pack's Task Manager.

Word processor and spreadsheet
The guts of Family Pack lie in its two big-time applications: WordPerfect 10.0 and Quattro Pro 10.0. Like Works Suite's Microsoft Word, WordPerfect 10.0 is the default word processor for this collection. It's a solid program, especially suitable for long, formulaic documents--the kind that legal beagles and academics typically wrangle. WordPerfect's Select Section command, for instance, lets you highlight large sections of a long document, entire chapters, say, without making you scroll manually through the document to find the pertinent part. From the Edit menu, pick Select, then Section, and enter the chapter, the paragraph, or even the page range. Word 2002 lets you jump to sections if they're defined as such, but it doesn't automatically select sections the way WordPerfect does.

Furthermore, unlike Works Suite 2003, Family Pack bundles a full-featured spreadsheet. Quattro Pro 10.0 is a much more capable program than the minimalist spreadsheet in Works: it includes a well-stocked and easy-to-use graphing wizard and multiple undos. If you need a business-capable spreadsheet and can't afford Microsoft Office or WordPerfect Office, Family Pack is an inexpensive way to get one.

Not much support at home
The technical assistance options for Family Pack are decidedly second-rate. You get what's called Classic Support, defined by Corel as 30 days of free telephone support via a toll number, so you pay for the call. After that you have to pony up plenty of pennies to talk to a real person: $40 per incident, $100 for three, or $150 for five. Worse, for an at-home suite at least, the help desk is open only from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday. You're out of luck on weekends or late evenings, the time when most home users are at their PCs. One bright spot: when we called during our 30-day freebie, the tech reps were quick to answer our questions. Online support, consisting of a problem-solution database and message forums, is free, but you'll find tips on only WordPerfect and Quattro Pro. For help with parts of the suite that aren't created by Corel, you'll have to head to the maker's own Web site. That's a hassle that Microsoft Works Suite 2003 neatly avoids.

Even though Family Pack costs less than Works Suite, Microsoft's collection better suits a home productivity suite. Its apps are more in tune with at-home needs, and its interface blows away WordPerfect's. However, if you need a cheap small-biz suite, buy Family Pack: it costs half as much as an upgrade from WordPerfect Office and gives you the important word processor/spreadsheet combo.



WordPerfect Family Pack's Task Manager is much simpler--and less helpful--than Works Suite's flashier, more flexible Task Launcher.

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