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Tesco Software: Personal Finance review

Verdict:

The spreadsheet mimics Excel and can handle multiple-sheet workbooks selected via tabs at the bottom of the screen.

A complete mix of programs, ranging from the superlative Complete Office to the lacklustre Easy Record.

Review Date: 15 Dec 2006

Price when reviewed: inc VAT

Reviewed By: Paul Wright

Our Rating 3 stars out of 5

Tesco's foray into the world of software distribution isn't as crazy as it seems - the company already has its own internet service and an online store through which it sells computers and peripherals.

The first six Tesco software products have been brought in from outside sources, then re-packaged and re-branded.

Star turn

Complete Office is a gem for £20. It's based on Ability Office Small Business Edition, which costs twice as much, so Tesco's version is a real bargain. It provides all the key facilities of Microsoft Office Professional through its five main modules, which cover word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, database management and picture management.

The word processor is called Write and it mimics Microsoft Word right down to the items on each menu and the options available in dialog boxes. Files are saved in Write's own format, but it can also save in Word format and open documents created in just about any other word processor that has ever existed. It has everything you'd expect of a professional word processor, including spelling and grammar checking, mail merging and auto-correction as you type. It even includes an equivalent to Microsoft Word Art in the form of Write FX.

The spreadsheet mimics Excel and can handle multiple-sheet workbooks, selected via tabs at the bottom of the screen. After importing a ten-sheet Excel workbook with cross-references between the pages, everything worked perfectly, with all formatting preserved and even the cell notes intact. Other workbooks containing complicated macros or conditional cell formatting needed tweaking in Tesco Office, as did the formatting of certain dates.

The presentation package creates slide-shows containing pictures and graphics for use in business and educational presentations. It can open files from Microsoft PowerPoint and save them in both PowerPoint and PDF formats. It's easy to use and includes a wide range of transitional effects between slides. The database isn't quite a clone of Microsoft Access, but it's close. Most users will have no use for it because basic list-making and record-keeping is easier to do in the spreadsheet, but it's a powerful tool for anyone who has database experience. The least significant module is a picture manager called PhotoAlbum, which is used to view, organise and print pictures downloaded from digital cameras or created by other programs, such as Tesco PhotoRestyle.

Perfect partner

PhotoRestyle is a version of Ability Photopaint, so it complements Complete Office very well. It's an image editor that can be used to create artwork from scratch, but will more often be used to enhance pictures taken by digital cameras. Pictures can be edited in layers, so that changes made to one part of a picture don't affect another, and it has the usual tools for correcting bad pictures, removing flash red-eye and applying special effects.

Protection and detection

For Tesco to devote a third of its six software titles to protecting its customers against internet threats seems excessive. The two products on offer are Internet Security and Antivirus & Antispyware. Both are variants of products from Panda Software, a firm with a good record in this field.

The cheaper of the two is Antivirus & Antispyware, a name that doesn't quite say it all because the program also includes a firewall, anti-phishing safeguards against websites that try to con you out of personal information, and a blocker for dialler programs that try to hijack dial-up modems for nefarious purposes.

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