Here are summaries of some recent Computing magazine product reviews. Each product is rated on a scale of one to four, with one computer indicating poor and four indicating excellent:
Harvard Graphics for Windows, for PC or compatible able to run Windows 3.0 or later with at least a 286 processor (386SX or 386 recommended), 2 megabytes RAM (4 recommended), EGA graphics (VGA or Super-VGA recommended), and 14 megabytes free hard disk space. $595 (or $125 as upgrade from competing presentation programs). From Software Publishing Corp., 1901 Landings Drive, Mountain View, CA 94943. (408) 986-8000.
Freelance Graphics for Windows, for PC or compatible able to run Windows 3.0 or later with at least a 286 processor, 2 megabytes RAM (4 recommended), and 10.5 megabytes free hard disk space. $495 (or $150 as upgrade from competing presentation programs). From Lotus Development Corp., 55 Cambridge Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02142. (800) 343-5414.
Summary: Both are powerful presentation programs that let you create, organize and produce the visual aids for a presentation. Both have plenty of templates. Both do a good job of using Windows to make themselves easier to control. Harvard has more ability to make and change charts and to handle graphic images; Freelance has the bundled Adobe Type Manager for prettier text, can make stand-alone screen shows and has far better technical support -- open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's close, but the tech support argues for Freelance. For either, be sure to have at least a 386 PC with 4 megabytes of RAM and an 80-megabyte disk, and try to buy at discount or through one of the upgrade deals.
Performance: 3 computers
Ease of use: 3 computers
Value: 3 computers
Performance: 3 computers
Ease of use: 4 computers
Value: 4 computers
These shareware programs for IBM and compatible computers can be downloaded from bulletin boards for a small cost.
Ultimate Geography. At first glance, Ultimate Geography seems like a handsome learning tool for teachers and students. But this inexpensive shareware program not only teaches kids a lot about states and capitals, it serves as an excellent resource.
In quizzing mode, the student selects a state from the map on the monitor, then types in the name. Teachers will appreciate how Ultimate Geography tracks scores and generates reports.
Students will get instant feedback.
After mastering the states, students can go on to capitals. Then the real fun begins. After you've mastered the basics, you get into some interesting statistics.
Ultimate Geography offers graphs on population density, racial population, the birth/death rate by year, along with the marriage/divorce rate. Under trivia, it lists everything from the state bird to the place to write for tourist information. Graphs are handsome, especially on a color monitor. (You'll need an EGA or VGA monitor.)
Basic registration is a bargain at $15. The teacher/students version, which has features for tests and reports costs $30. If, after trying it, you decide to register, write to Ultimate Software, P.O. Box 2454, White City, Ore. 97503.
Language Tutor. Spanish and French are represented on separate disks. You can be tested on nouns, verbs, conjugations, phrases and miscellaneous words in these helpful language programs.
Choose the noun category and you're asked whether you want a multiple-choice test and whether you want Spanish to English or vice versa. Then you're given a word to translate. When you select the correct answer, you're given a score, along with the amount of time it took you to choose the correct answer.
If you make a mistake, the correct answer is highlighted. Both French and Spanish programs look good on color monitors, but unlike Ultimate Geography, can run on a monochrome laptop screen, too. Both can be tried for 30 days (you'll have endless reminders that you're using an unregistered copy). If you keep using the language tutors after that, you need to register for $20 each with Ultimate Software, P.O. Box 2454, White City, Ore. 97503.
(For copies of these programs, send $4 each to Shareware, P.O. Box 7037, Long Beach, Calif. 90807. Specify 5.25- or 3.5-inch disks. A catalog on a disk costs $2. Phone (310) 595-6870.