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Google Pack Overview

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Lounge' started by melkior_inactive, Mar 22, 2007.

  1. First of all,
    if you're not familiar with the Google Pack you should be so read on! :D
    And if you are, read on anyway, you migh get something you didn't know.

    Google Pack is a collection of free (as in free beer) software. Google says it's also essential. I agree partialy. I'll argue that later.
    The software included is divided into three categories. So here's the list:
    Google software:
    • Google Desktop
    • Picasa
    • Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer
    • Google Pack Screensaver
    Additional software:
    • Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar
    • Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition
    • Norton AntiVirus 2005 Special Edition
    • Adobe Reader
    Optional software:
    • RealPlayer
    • Gallery Player HD Images
    • Skype

    OK, so now you know what's in it. Now, what does it do?
    Well, lots of things. Before I start I'd like to add that I use most of this software (in some cases it's self-evident) and find it useful.

    Google Desktop
    Google Desktop isn't really an apllication. It's in fact a set of apps. I've been using it since early Betas and always found it useful.
    The main thing this app does is search your PC. It searches your files, it searches into your documents, mail, music, files, web history, you name it.
    How does that work? Well after the install the app indexes your files while your computer is idle. And it adds new files as you create or copy/download them. It also indexes deleted files so you can recover them.
    I said that Google Desktop is a set of apps. Well, it includes the Google Sidebar and Google Gadgets. If you've seen Mac OS X Dashboard, or Windows Vista, you know what I'm talking about.
    It's a set of little Javascript/HTML based apps that tell the time, get your RSS feeds, check e-mail, give you weather reports. Need more info? Google it! :D
    8/10 on melkior's scale

    There's been a lot of talk about Google's Picasa on the web. Some like it, others hate it. I'm in the first group. I like things neat. And Picasa does its job exactly that way.
    Picasa organises your photos. You can view them by album, by date, sort them. It even has some basic editing functions and filters.
    You can print your photos on your printer or even order prints online. (To tell you the truth I only use Picasa to organise pics, nothing else).
    7/8 on melkior's scale

    Google Toolbar for IE
    It searches the web, it blocks pop-ups. It bookmarks pages. And it has lots of other cool things. Oh my God, what is it?!?
    Well, don't get overexcited -- it's a toolbar. If you worked on a computer for more than 15 minutes in your life you must have seen one.
    But it's a good one as toolbars go. (And it must be really good if I say so cause I have some serious issues with toolbars. I'm not a toolbar man.)
    The only thing I don't like about this product is the "IE" part. (Yup, I also have this thing about IE. Don't get me started!)
    Oh almost forget to tell you that it gives you the PR of the site you're visiting.
    6/10 on melkior's scale (I'd give it 8 or maybe even 9 if it wasn't for IE)

    Google Pack Screensaver
    Well, it's screensaver. So I guess it saves your screen. Keeps it safe, you know. Well, it probably won't save your screen if it falls from the 18th floor but it's preatty to look at.​
    3/10 on melkior's scale (What did you expect? It's a screensaver!)

    Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar
    Apart from the Google Desktop this is the best part of the pack IMHO. I think I don't need to say anything else.
    I love Firefox, and it loves me and we're going to get married and have children. (I think I should go and take my medication now.)​
    10/10 on melkior's scale (You didn't think that was going to happen.)

    Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition
    A spyware detector and removal tool. And a good one from my experience. Must have! (On my Windows machines I'm usually runing Ad-Aware and some other anti-spyware tool, cause I noticed that all of these tools sometimes miss a few things. Just to be on the safe side.)​
    8/10 on melkior's scale

    Norton AntiVirus 2005 SE
    Noooooooo! Lord, why have you forsaken me?
    No really, I have absolutly no idea why Google chose Symantec. Norton eats your RAM like it's pop-corn. It's big, it's slow and it's stupid.
    There are so many better free antivirus solutions. avast! antivirus software - computer virus, worm and Trojan protection by ALWIL Software in example.​
    0/10 on melkior's scale (I'd give it a negative result, but you might think I'm overreacting.)

    Adobe Reader
    This app also doesn't need an introduction. It's an industry standard. It doesn't matter if you like it or hate it -- we all need to open a PDF sometimes. And while there are other free apps that do this, this is the only one that properly parses the PDF documents.​
    7/10 on melkior's scale ('Cause it's slow!)

    Optional software:
    Since they're optional I'll put them together.
    RealPlayer - a media player from Real. It can transfer music to portable media players. Personally, I try to avoid it.
    Skype - free voice/video chat to other Skype users. With the ability to call landlines and mobile phones at low rates. I consider VoIP a normal evolution of the common telephone (lat. Telephonus Vulgaris). So why not?
    Gallery Player HD Images - get high quality images and artwork to your computer, use them as a desktop wallpaper or a screensaver. Nice but useless.​
    5/10 on melkior's scale

    Overall rating: 7/10 (Actually if you calculate it's 6/10 but that would be too low).

    The Google Pack has it's pros and cons like any other piece of software. But the good thing is that you can exclude the things that you don't need or want.
    It's a nice collection of software for the average user.
    But it's useful even if you're a pro. I'd recommend you to check it out and see for yourself.
    I've seen many of these "essential" packs in my time, but this is the first one that actually has the right to call itself that way.

    Get it here: Google Pack

    And don't forget, if you're already using the Google Pack/Toolbar you can use the UK WW Google Toolbar Button. You can find it here.

    I hope you found this review useful.

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  2. temi

    temi Facilitator Webmaster

    Melky, impresive review, well done :)
  3. Lovely

    Lovely Senior Member Webmaster

    It is a loaded package from Google, but I don't like the Google toolbar, that come with Mozilla Firefox, it is not a complete Google toolbar...

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