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Boox Online Accounting review

Simon Handby
30 May 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
69.50
inc VAT

Boox doesn’t feel as polished as Crunch, its slightly cheaper main rival, but it’s one to watch

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Specifications

Online accounts packages are fairly common, but Boox is one of only two we've seen that combine bookkeeping software with a tightly integrated accountancy service, offering small businesses a single destination for bookkeeping, advice and accountancy. It's a great idea, but Boox will have to be impressive to beat its main rival, the Business Buy-winning Crunch Complete.

Sadly, it starts at a slight disadvantage. Although Boox subscribers get free limited company formation (Crunch charges £60 ex VAT), they'll pay £10 more each month than users of Crunch Complete. The service is available only to limited companies, although they needn’t be registered for VAT.

Logging into Boox, the first thing we noticed is that it's protected by a username and password, but not by an additional security step such as a memorable word. It does have a flash in the bottom right-hand corner that confirms the session’s secured with an SSL certificate provided by Comodo, though. The graphic remains on screen, along with a black “Feedback” button that appears once you're logged in to Boox. Both can, at times, obscure parts of the user interface, which seems fixed in size, no matter which platform you use. It doesn’t scale or reflow automatically to suit a netbook, smartphone or tablet.

Boox Expenses Dashboard

There's liberal use of graphics to illustrate key business metrics; here we see an expense breakdown

In other regards, Boox employs a strikingly similar layout to Crunch, dividing itself across eight sections that include invoices, expenses, banking, taxes and reports. As with Crunch, each section has a top-level dashboard with several sub-headings for more in-depth functions and reporting. You can access any sub-heading without first having to open its parent section, but the submenus open dynamically based on mouse-over movements, which can make navigation a fiddle.

Each dashboard uses at least one chart to illustrate relevant data, such as sales by month and sales by customer on the invoicing dashboard. This is alongside tabular information such as lists of recent transactions or expenses. Overall there's lots of useful information, but it's not presented quite as slickly as in Crunch, or more simple packages such as Sage One Accounts.

We also think Crunch’s Help section is better, as it provides a drop-down search box on every screen, in which the most relevant context-sensitive articles are already listed. In Boox, the Help section contains fewer than 40 articles in total, arranged in a dedicated knowledge base.

GOOD BOOX

Our first impressions weren't entirely positive, but we found some subtle yet impressive details after prolonged use. Enter a new supplier or client, for example, and it looks up their address from their post code, helping you complete their address quickly. There's also greater control over the way invoices are generated and numbered, with the ability to choose date or sequential numbering and a custom prefix or suffix applicable either globally or to individual clients. We also like the option to set a Payment Due date directly rather than relying on a set number of days from the invoice date, and the ability to add rechargeable expenses while generating the invoice.

Invoice Settings

There's a good deal of control over how invoices are numbered

There are other areas, however, where Boox feels like it could do with more polish. As an example, invoice PDFs are generated as letter-size documents rather than A4, and their layout seems rather stuffy. While Boox isn't unique in lacking explicit support for product lines, invoices specifically use “Hours/Days” rather than “Quantity”, which makes them unsuitable for goods sales, or people who charge by the word, image or similar. Whereas Crunch lets you upload photos or PDFs to support expense entries, Boox doesn't. This means you'll have to keep your own digital or paper records.

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