Watson 1.6, by Karelia
Posted: 2-Feb-2003

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Karelia Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: UTILITY
     
$29   Download

Karelia refers to Watson as a desktop web productivity application. From a functionality perspective, Watson is more like a web browser than a desktop application. For example, in a typical internet search window, you receive a list of results with links to web pages. Watson, on the other hand, is designed with modules, and within each module, the results of the particular search type are retrieved from the web, loaded into Watson, and formatted in a way that makes sense for that particular module.

As the name hints, Watson is a utility similar to Apple's Sherlock, providing a search window like in design, but with a lot more power and features. In fact, after using Watson for awhile, it seems that the names should really be reversed. Watson is definitely the stronger of these two Mac OS X internet search programs.

The best way to describe Watson is to break it down by modules (aka, search types). The following is a current list of Watson modules, along with a list of Pro's and Con's for each module.

MODULES:

Amazon
PROS: Easy way to search Amazon for an item. Includes category searches.
CONS: Forces category search (i.e., cannot do an "All Products" search like you can on the actual web site). Changing category erases your previous search text. Sometimes get strange results. Search for "electric tea kettle" in Kitchen & Housewares came up with good matches, but same search in Electronics came up speaker phones, stereos, etc., but no tea kettles.
Ebay
PROS: Easy way to track your auctions (ones you are bidding on, selling, or general item searches). Good search selections. Easy to bookmark specific auctions.
CONS: In bookmarks, clicking on Item No or Price column header does not sort the listings as you would expect.
Exchange
PROS: Great and easy way to find out current exchange rates. Includes US dollar, Euro, Yen, and several others from 30 countries.
CONS: None
Google
PROS: Easy access to the Google search engine. Ability to save searches. Advanced search options.
CONS: Would be nice to have history of searches for a current session.
Images
PROS: Simply the best image search engine I've seen. Can specify minimum dimensions to eliminate thumb nail images. Can increase results clicking on the arrow button.
CONS: Search results don't always match search text. Not obvious that clicking on small arrow button increases results (discovered by accident).
Meerkat
PROS: Easy article searching.
CONS: Went to search for Pascal under "Lang", and it came up empty.
Movies
PROS: Movie and Theatre searching. Faster and easier than searching on the web sites. Includes summary and preview tabs in details.
CONS: None
Packages
PROS: Easy and fast way to track packages. Supports USPS, UPS, Fedex and Airborne. Saves results.
CONS: Clicking on "Status" column does not sort by status.
Phone
PROS: Great phone directory assistance, including reverse directory (enter phone number), and area lookup.
CONS: Would be nice to be able to sort by city and/or zip on results.
PriceGrabber
PROS: Fast and easy listings for product price comparisons.
CONS: Didn't seem to pickup as much as some price search engines (i.e., search for "OWC 80 GB Drive" returned no results).
Recipes
PROS: Browse or advance search, picks up recipes from all over. Found some great recipes for candied pecans!
CONS: No way to store search results. No simple way to save recipes (must copy and paste into another program).
Reference
PROS: Easy lookup for dictionaries, thesaurus, encyclopedia, bible, and more! Lots of choices.
CONS: If you misspelled a word, did not provide approximations (such as a simple spell checker might do).
Stocks
PROS: List any stock symbols, and get an easy to manage list of stocks, their prices, and details (including news and graphs). Graphs for a day, week, or year. Includes name search.
CONS: No graphs greater than 1 year.
Translation
PROS: Simple translations from English to other languages, such as Spanish, French, Japanese and more. Includes reverse translation (other languages can be the source). Choice of Babelfish, FreeTranslation, Intertran and Lycos services.
CONS: Eastern languages, such as Chinese and Japanese, only show symbolic output (not useful if you want to know how to pronounce in those languages unless you understood the symbols). Can translate from Russian, but not to Russian.
TV
PROS: Online TV guide with grid display and easily rotates through time slots. Includes a search tab to search for particular shows. Click on a show, and details are displayed. Can also refine listings to just your favorite channels. This was great when I needed to know the repeat showings of The Shield.
CONS: None
VersionTracker
PROS: Simple listings of software titles on VersionTracker.com. Includes search tab.
CONS: No categories for Mac OS 9, Mac OS X and PC. Assumption can be made that it is all OS X since Watson is OS X, but you know what they say about making assumptions.
Weather
PROS: Find the weather conditions for any area. Includes detailed current conditions, 5-day forecast, doppler radar graphics, and infrared satellite picture.
CONS: Not intuitive nor simple to change location that is being examined (must turn settings on, then set new location). Flaky and vague controls on the doppler radar screen.
Yahoo
PROS: Easy way to use Yahoo search engine. Includes categories and search options, with sortable search results.
CONS: I did some simple searches that kept coming up empty (i.e., searched for Claire Forlani in Actors and Actresses, no results).
Zip Codes
PROS: Enter an address to get full zip code (Zip + 4), or enter a zip code to get city and state. Easy access.
CONS: None.


Summary
Watson is what I would consider an OS X killer application. I'm one of many that still boot up under OS 9 for normal work for a variety of productivity reasons, and Watson is one of those few applications that makes me really wish I could live in OS X (or wish that Watson would come out for OS 9, though the support web site indicates that it never will). From monitoring my eBay auctions and mailings, to finding a movie on the fly, to seeing what channel and what time I could catch The Shield on TV, Watson is truly integrated into the every day lifestyle. With the advanced search capabilities, the tailored results for each search type, and the number of different kinds of search types, this is one of the most powerful utilities that I've ever seen on the Macintosh. I highly recommend it to all Mac OS X users.

Pros

  • Intelligent search results tailored to each search type
  • Lots of useful search types
  • Truly integrated with every day lifestyles


Cons

  • Some search types yielded limited results
  • Not all columns would sort

Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice