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Review CornerSoftware
WordPerfect Family Pack 2
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Corel has packed tremendous power into this economical suite that will serve most families' basic computing needs admirably. Users get the latest version of the excellent word-processing application WordPerfect, a powerful spreadsheet software, a print shop and photo-editing suite, typing improvement software, an electronic Encyclopedia, and a trip planner. All of these are tied together well with an easy-to-use Task Manager and loads of helpful tips. This package represents outstanding value.
 Award of Excellence
Ages: 9-Adult   Subject: Utilities/Reference  Brand: Corel
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
This family software suite includes the following full software programs:
  • WordPerfect 9
  • Quattro Pro 9
  • Corel Print House 5
  • Compton's Encyclopedia 2000 Standard
  • Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 10
  • National Geographic Trip Planner Platinum 2000
Designed to supply families with the basic tools for their diverse home computing needs, this suite is not only powerful, it is easy to use with a Task Manager that helps to integrate its many programs.

At the heart of the suite is Corel's word processing application, WordPerfect 9. To many, WordPerfect may be considered the "other" word processing application, as use of Microsoft Word is more widespread. However, it is a powerful tool, and there are those who swear by it. WordPerfect is not a clone of Microsoft Word, so those accustomed to working with Word will need to invest a little time in order to "learn" the ins and outs of this application. However, it is similar enough in its layout and features, and its power is comparable. Corel has worked hard to make their product compatible with its main competitor, all the while maintaining WordPerfect's integrity as a unique program.

In comparison to older versions of WordPerfect, WordPerfect 9 remains faithful to its predecessors, while still offering some truly useful improvements. Most notable — and very exciting — is its RealTime Preview feature. This allows users to preview formatting changes in real time before applying any changes to a document, eliminating the need to rely heavily on the undo and redo functions. This feature works for fonts, line justification, borders, and more.

Another handy feature for users who don't already use the Microsoft IntelliMouseAutoscroll allows for automatic scrolling without the need to use the scroll bar. The new Block Make It Fit feature offers the ability to fit selected blocks of a document into a specified part of the document, keeping other portions of the document unchanged. True Font Bit allows fonts used to be embedded in the document, which means that if users send their document to another computer, even if these fonts are not installed on the destination computer, they are still readable in their original form.

Comparisons to Word and older versions of WordPerfect aside, WordPerfect 9 is a powerful tool for creating professional-quality documents including reports, newsletters, and more. Certainly, we have found all of the features we expected from a high-quality word processor in WordPerfect 9, and then some. Adding either graphics, tables, or graphs to a document is an easy process; the Prompt-As-You-Go feature that displays suggestions (for example, alternate words and alternate spellings) as you work is especially handy; the PerfectExpert help feature appears as a side toolbar and is loaded with easy-to-use tips; the application's proof-reading tools are stellar; and the Undo/Redo History function helps streamline the process of moving backward and forward when multiple steps are involved by eliminating the need to click on undo or redo over and over again.

The suite's powerful spreadsheet application, Quattro Pro 9, allows users to create spreadsheet-based documents that help them manage data. Some of the improvements to the product won't matter much to most families (such as the increased numbers of spreadsheets allowed per notebook and more rows and columns allowed in each). However, with the help of the ready-made templates and help features, users will learn a few handy tricks that will allow them to organize and manage things like family collectibles, video libraries, and more.

For a family's basic print project and image-editing needs, Corel Print House 5 and Corel Photo House 5 will serve well. With drag-and-drop capabilities and a nice user interface, this program makes it easy to create banners, greeting cards, calendars, and more. Loads of sample projects are available to help users get started. As well, photos and images can be manipulated in a variety of ways — including using basic photo-editing functions like removing red-eye and other touch-ups and repairs, painting tools, and special effects.

The very fact that Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 10 is on its tenth version (and, in fact, there is an eleventh version now available) suggests that the program has not only been around for some time, but it is worthy of bringing back again and again. This title has long been recognized as an excellent program for both adults and older children to improve their typing skills — such a crucial skill in today's text-intensive, computerized world. This program supports multiple users and tracks each player's progress, adapting lessons according to individual performance. Complete with typing lessons and eight games that help build rhythm, speed, and accuracy, this CD-ROM is a superb typing training program.

While there are better electronic Encyclopedias on the market, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia 2000 Standard remains a decent choice. The entire text of the 26-volume print version of Compton's Encyclopedia is included here, along with images, carefully-selected Internet links, virtual tours, maps, sound clips, and more. Dictionary and thesaurus entries are also included.

Finally, the National Geographic Trip Planner Platinum 2000 is handy for those planning to travel within North America. Designed as an interactive travel guide, this program allows users to generate and print maps and itineraries for any upcoming road trip, with trip routing covering the United States and Canada. Users can search for hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions along the way, and schedule these stops into their travel plan. The program supplies detailed driving directions and trip costs after users factor in variables like fuel costs and expected driving speed.

The Task Manager attempts to integrate the program's many applications, and provides some ready-made templates for diverse projects. These templates can be used as a handy starting point for family projects, or as a springboard for ideas. The Task Manager assists users by introducing them to the many possibilities of the suite. It's an excellent place for new users to start working with the program, and it's a place to return to from time to time to obtain project ideas. Many families, for example, don't use their spreadsheet software simply because they don't know what they can do with it — the Task Manager helps get them started using the application for things like creating a family budget, a household inventory, family medical history, and mortgage amortization, to name a few.

If this suite sounds overwhelming in any way — it's not. It's a package that is designed with novice home computing in mind. Installation is easy and the Install-As-You-Go feature allows users to install only the applications they need, adding more only as the need arises.

Technically Speaking
Windows 95/98/NT 4.0; 486 PC, 66 MHz processor; 16 MB RAM (32 MB recommended); CD-ROM drive; 140 MB hard drive space. For Corel Print House, Mavis Beacon, Compton's, and National Geographic, minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/NT 4.0; Pentium 100 MHz processor; 16 MB RAM (32 MB recommended); CD-ROM drive; 360 MB hard drive space.

Dollar Value
This package retails for approximately $70 US, which is an excellent value considering all of the quality programs included.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: February 2001