Crosstalk Communicator. (telecommunication software) (evaluation)
by Eddie Huffman
A modem can be a lifeline. It links your PC to the outside world and lets you send and receive information, scan bulletin boards, and tap into time- and money-saving services where you do everything from researching the latest in panda metabolism to lining up an airline ticket. Standing between you and these exciting services, however, is communications software. Communications software tends to fall into two groups: programs that are easy to use and programs with a lot of features that are hard to use.
Crosstalk Communicator tries to be a happy medium. It's packed with enough features to handle a wide variety of telecommunications situations, necessarily making it somewhat complex; yet it's relatively easy to use. Entries are already programmed for popular services like CompuServe and the Official Airline Guide, and a feature dubbed EASYCALL makes creating new entries for communication with bulletin boards or other computer systems a snap. Crosstalk Communicator asks a few simple questions to set up an entry and then dials automatically, if you want it to.
Making adjustments to Crosstalk Communicator's standard settings requires a bit more effort. Each entry hides a multilevel maze of options, allowing you to choose between several terminal emulations, XMODEM variants, and specific utilities. After initial setup, however, it's no problem to call a computer or system and interact. I'd like to see a more detailed menu after connection has been established, but once I got used to the system, I was able to work fairly quickly, executing commands and up- and downloading files online.
The program comes with a helpful reference card and a nicely detailed, thoroughly indexed user's guide. Its onscreen help system can be confusing at first, although with repeated use it proved perfectly adequate.
Crosstalk Communicator may provide more options and features than a casual telecommunicator needs, but it's basically easy to use, and it's a very powerful tool.
IBM PC, PS/2, and compatibles: 512K; hard disk or two floppy drives; modem more than 50 brands supported) or direct computer connection--$99
1000 Alderman Dr.
Alpharetta, GA 30202-4199