Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows with Multimedia SmartHelp, Release 1.1. (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications) (Evaluation)
by Richard O. Mann
The multimedia edition of Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows takes advantage of the vast storage space of the CD-ROM to deliver not only a full copy of the spreadsheet and all its manuals, but also a series of animated instructional movies.
Lotus 1-2-3 for windows, while not the best Windows spreadsheet, has the incomparable advantage of being totally compatible with all previous versions of 1-2-3, a fact not lost on millions of 1-2-3 owners. For more on this version, check out the Test Lab section in the May 1992 issue of Compute.
The CD-ROM version is called Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows with Multimedia SmartHelp, Release 1.1 (Lotus Development, 55 Cambridge Parkway, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142; 800-343-5414; $495). It writes the same files onto your hard disk as the disk-based version, so there's no savings in disk space. You can then run 1-2-3 anytime without inserting the CD-ROM, which is needed only for the multimedia features.
The first multimedia addition is the Guided Tour of 1-2-3 for Windows. Wit animation, music, voice, and sound effects, a tuxedo'd emcee leads you through a dozen video presentations to familiarize you with the program. It's an entertaining and well-produced mini-extravaganza.
The second multimedia element is called Online Books. All the manuals that normally accompany the program are on the CD-ROM. They're available at the click of a mouse, as long as your CD-ROM is in the drive. (The normal help files are on the hard disk.)
The online manuals miss several opportunities to improve on the printed versions. They could have included hypertext links that let you quickly look up unfamiliar items. In addition. Search is limited to terms you normally find in the printed book's index. The printed manuals are available for an additional $30.
A series of 37 animated Show Me Movies comprise the third multimedia addition. Available from a Smartlcon on the toolbar or in the appropriate individual help screens, these movies explain simple 1-2-3 concepts vocally while illustrating the concepts on screen. They're helpful. but tend to concentrate on the simpler matters. Experienced 1-2-3 users will find little enlightenment here. Beginners, on the other hand, will be both delighted and enlightened.
On the whole, while the multimedia additions are well done, they offer the most value to users new to Lotus 1-2-3. Experienced users will find little more than entertainment.