Software is a powerful medium, and the list of available titles is growing exponentially. While it's easy to page through books on a store shelf, software is often hidden behind shrinkwrapped boxes. How do you determine which titles are best for your classroom, living room or office?
By reading reviews, downloading demos and heeding the advice of other software users. The resources below will help you determine which titles best suit your needs and interests.
See What They're Saying
Many computer media make it their mission to stay on top of the latest and greatest software. It's a good idea to browse or search their archives before making a purchase decision. Review sources include:
ZDNet Product Reviews This site draws software review content from the Ziff-Davis family of publications, including Family PC, Computer Gaming World, PC/Computing, PC Magazine and Macworld.
PC Magazine's Software Reviews
See what the professionals have to say about software in this Product Guides section. Pick a category and start comparing products, prices, rankings and more.
Shareware is downloadable software distributed on a trial basis. Shareware publishers rely on an honor system -- if you use the software regularly, you are expected to register and pay for it. There are thousands of shareware programs out there. Some are incredibly useful and others -- well -- aren't.
Demos are timed or crippled versions of commercial software that can be downloaded for preview purposes. They sometimes take hours to download, but can prevent buyer's remorse down the road. If you don't like it, you don't buy it. Some of the best shareware and demo archives include:
Shareware.com and Download.com These sites from CNET allow you to search for, browse and download freeware, shareware, demos, fixes, patches and upgrades from the best software archives and computer vendors. Weekly newsletters help software-aholics stay on top of new arrivals.
Jumbo.com Jumbo organizes more than 300,000 shareware and freeware titles. A "Must-Haves" section includes anti-viral shareware and the latest Web browsers.
TUCOWS Offers the latest WinZip 11.0, STOPzilla and Spyware Doctor 5, performance rated and checked for viruses.
ZDNet Software Library This computer publishing giant has spotlighted editor and surfer favorites. Check the Weekly Top 10.
If downloading makes you nervous, pick up a few tips before you begin: