Lotus SmartSuite 9.6 – Software Review – Evaluation
* Requirements: 486/66 processor; VGA adapter; CD-ROM drive (3.5-inch media exchange available); Windows 95/98/NT4/2000/ME, 16MB RAM for Windows 9x and ME, 48MB RAM for Windows NT, 64MB RAM for Windows 2000; 268MB hard disk space * List Price: $399; upgrade $149 * Publisher: Lotus Development Corp., 617-577-8500, www.lotus.com
LOTUS SMARTSUITE 9.6 IS A POWERFUL AND capable alternative to Microsoft Office, even though the latter comes free with many PCs. Like Office, it boasts a word processor (AmiPro), a presentation graphics application (Freelance Graphics), an information manager (Organizer), a database program (Approach), and a spreadsheet application (1-2-3). With collaboration and Web publishing tools as well, this is a complete and seamless suite.
An unobtrusive taskbar at the bottom of the screen provides access to all the SmartSuite components. We were most impressed with Organizer, which let us perform sophisticated time and contact management including Internet calendar scheduling and access to the Official Airline Guide Travel Information System.
SmartSuite is also the best choice available for Web publishing. FastSite is the simplest site publishing tool we’ve seen. We created a site with a mix of spreadsheets, word processing documents, and downloadable PDF files in mere minutes.
Collaboration is another watchword in SmartSuite. Files can be easily shared among applications and users. We could send any range of cells from a spreadsheet to coworkers and consolidate multiple versions of a document.
SmartSuite has two big strikes against it. First, it’s made for the corporate environment, not the home office. The entire suite, particularly the collaborative features, may be overkill for the home-based worker. Second, it’s pricey, especially for people with Office already installed.
Users of earlier SmartSuite versions will certainly want this upgrade. And, while we doubt that Microsoft Office users will want to switch, any home-based worker in need of a coherent office suite with modest system requirements should take a serious look at this product.
HOME OFFICE COMPUTING rates products on a scale of 1 to 10–with few 9’s or 10’s–based on value, performance, innovation (medals go to rare standouts in these areas), ease of use, and suitability for home offices. The A and B symbols indicate pros and cons.
A Great applications and collaboration tools
B You probably already have MS Office for free
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