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WinLab Reviews
Astound 4.0
Astound-ing Presentation, Astound-ing Problems

-- by Joel T. Patz

You could build stunning applications with Astound 4.0, if you could tolerate equally stunning problems.

Version 4.0 lets you import PowerPoint 7.0 files and then, to ensure conformity and save time, choose from over 100 preanimated templates to globally add special effects.

Astound has always excelled at controlling the timing of multimedia elements and effects, including the ability to seamlessly handle simultaneously occuring effects. Objects can now follow a free-form path (a Bezier curve) that you draw with the mouse. However, the program uses the path's midpoint as the endpoint for the object. To make the object follow the entire curve, you have to physically drag it to the end of the path.

Navigation improvements simplify tasks, letting you jump from any shape, picture or text block to another area of the presentation, to another program or even to a Web site. Improved controls let you play sound files, change the cursor and highlight objects.

Yes, the application has much to offer: excellent chart animation and slide transitions, as well as extensive playback control.

My package included a Win95/NT version of Astound 4.0 and the current 3.0 version for Win3.1. Online documentation is incorrect and incomplete. The printed tutorial is misleading, the printed instructions don't match the online help system, and typos abound. When you install the program from the CD-ROM, a message appears telling you to install from the diskettes instead.

Despite its rich features, Astound 4.0 seems hastily assembled and sloppy. I'd suggest you look at our Recommended List pro presentation package, Lotus Freelance Graphics 96.

W Info File

Astound 4.0
Price: $249; upgrade, $99
Pros: Templates; chart animation
Cons: Inferior documentation
Disk Space: 20MB
RAM: Windows 3.1x, 8MB; Windows 95 and NT, 8MB (16MB recommended)
Platforms: 3x, 95, NT
800-922-9888, 415-845-6200
WinMag Box Score: 2.5

Copyright 1997 CMP Media Inc.

(From Windows Magazine, January 1997, page 164.)