The Maximizer and Maximizer Lite. (contact-management software) (Evaluation)
by Eddie Huffman
They may sound like new brands of malt liquor, but The Maximizer and Maximizer Lite are actually very similar variations on the theme of powerful contact-management software. As you might expect, Maximizer Lite is a stripped-down version of the Maximizer, though the two programs operate identically up to a point.
At its most basic level, contact-management software serves as a meta-Rolodex for your PC, with some word processing, electronic communications, and automated calendar function frequently tossed in for good measure. In addition to keeping track of names and addresses for your clients or business contacts, The Maximizer also allows you to keep up with their birthdays and hobbies, the dates you last talked to them, and how soon you need to make contact again. If you have a Hayes-compatible modem, it dials their numbers for you. The Maximizer prints out letters--individually or personalized in bulk--to people you need to stay in touch with, and it makes a note of both the date and subject of every letter you send. The program has a pop-up calculator, an elementary ledger program, and a feature called MaxMerge for people who need to move their databases around, as from a desktop PC to a laptop. All of its features work well, offering no unpleasant surprises either in setup or execution.
This is highly specialized software, geared toward people who have ongoing, complex relationships with many clients. The Maximizer does so much that it's hard to keep up with it all--and hard to remember which sublevel of a sublevel holds a given tidbit of information once you remember to look for it. Navigating The Maximizer necessitates wandering through a maze of choice-filled menus, each of which opens onto another choice-filled menu. You can do a lot with the program, but in the process you have to remember a lot of not-always-obvious keystrokes and consult help screens, a quick reference guide, or the manual quite a bit. With so many options, the macro feature offers little relief unless you're using The Maximizer for a very narrow range of uses.
Complexity almost invariably goes hand in hand with greater power. But Maximizer Lite, which reduces the complexity to a modest extent, retains a suprising amount of The Maximizer's considerable power. The main losses are the personal records feature available in The Maximizer, which includes the income and expense ledger and a diary feature for keeping track of notes. But PC owners without a hard drive gain the ability to run the program on two floppies, and Maximizer Lite also comes with a fine program to print out client information in the form of a phone book, on labels, or on actual Rolodex cards.
Tastes great? Less filling? Let's just say that each has its own attributes, along with a few drawbacks. If you need the kind of features the Maximizer programs offer, there's plenty of potential in either as long as you're willing to take the time and effort necessary to tap into it.