Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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May 2004, Week 5 -- Getting Closer to Perfect




WordPerfect 12

   They're trying for perfect compatibility in WordPerfect Office 12. That's compatibility with that other "Office" suite, from Microsoft or somebody like that.

   It's tough being number two, especially when you used to be number one, so you not only have to try harder, you have to make it easier. And easier it is; we would rather work on any document in WordPerfect than hack our way through the menu levels of MS Word. Even a user who gave the WordPerfect Office Suite a "thumbs down" in "Cnet reviews", commented "it's easier to use and vastly superior to MS Word." Vastly superior is what it is. The main reason the user didn't give it a thumbs up was the conversions from MS Word aren't quite perfect. We did notice that working in the MS Word "mode" of WordPerect, the creation of tables looked different.


   WP Office 12 has templates for just about anything you want to compose and print: annual reports, business plans, newsletters, calendars, etc.; there's even a template for printing graph paper. Anything you create can be saved as a PDF file (Adobe's portable document format) without having to use an extra program.


   And this may seem silly, but we are impressed that you can do envelopes with WordPerfect. Yes, you can do envelopes with MS Word, and after months of wandering in the wilderness, some users figure out how, but you can do envelopes right away in WordPerfect. If you scroll through a selection of fonts in WordPerfect it immediately shows you how a section or a whole document would look in that font. Cool, as they used to say back in high school.


   There's much more to WordPerfect Office 12 than the word processor, so let's get to some of that.


   You can do presentations with a feature of WP Office Suite called, logically enough: "Presentations." This is like Microsoft's "PowerPoint," but with lots of extras. PowerPoint is a slide show program. Presentation is a slide show program, animation program, graphics editor and web page creator. You can edit an old PowerPoint presentation in WordPerfect to jazz it up. Viewing the presentations can be done with Macromedia Flash, a free viewer. Since "Flash" is required to view web pages, most people downloaded it ages ago.


   The QuattroPro spreadsheet in WordPerfect Office has a couple of features we love. One is a little blue triangle that appears in the corner of any cell that carries totals or sub-totals. If you hover the mouse pointer over that triangle it reveals what formula was used to reach that set of numbers. Another nifty feature is see-through 3-D bar charts. It's common for a tall bar to obscure others behind it or make it difficult to read the index numbers at the sides of the chart. Now you can see through the tall guys and easily read what's behind.


   WordPerfect Office 12 is $299 at, which also has a free trial version. We found WP Office 12 for $233-$252 at discounter To get the $233 price, we had to start at By-the-way: all the new "Inspiron" line of Dell Computers come with WordPerfect Office 12 already installed. The game is afoot, as Sherlock Holmes would say.


Okidata lasers up front


 Okidata C5100



   The new Okidata color laser printers have the best color quality we've ever seen from this kind of printer; the printout even has the kind of semi-glossy finish you see in slick magazine pages.

   The charge against color lasers in the past is that you got precision print definition but you didn't get the rich, deep color you got from a good inkjet. Well, we can forget that; color us deeply impressed.

   In PC World Magazine's recent bench tests of color laser printer, three of the top ten were from Okidata, including the number one selection. Unfortunately, that model, the OKI C7300n, costs $2,057. The model C5100n we ran, on the other hand, costs much less. We found it for $700 at Office Depot, the office supplies chain, and only $575 from discounter The Minolta 2300W color laser we wrote about last year, is still the best bargain we could find, selling for less than $500. It's a great deal for small and home offices; we have one and we love it.


   The great thing about color laser printers is that they are cheaper to operate than low-priced color inkjet printers, even after you factor in the higher initial cost. In general what you get when you go up in price is faster output. The Okidata C5100n is a good choice for a small business or even a department in a large business if the demand is not constant. For more information on Okidata printers, go to their web site: For Minolta, go to




--  An unusual travel information site. The information here is all personal, from people who have been there (wherever the "there" is) or have used online travel services. Travelers can register and create their own home page with personal opinions about places they've been, restaurants, hotels, museums, night life, etc. You can also contact them and ask questions. The opinions are quite candid.

--  Site is maintained by the A&E cable television channel, with additional material from the History and Biography channels. It's a good way to view photos of a place you might want to visit and get lots of background information. The site then wants to sell you a tour for that place. You don't have to buy, of course. Examples include Classic Gardens of England, the Leipzig Bach Festival, Rome and the Amalfi Coast, etc. You can also have the site design a custom tour, economy or luxury class.

NOTE: Readers can search more than three years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at and Joy Schwabach at