Exalead one:desktop 4 Professional Edition review

£50
Price when reviewed

Exalead one:desktop is based upon the engine that’s been powering AOL France searches for some years. Its innovative interface starts with a ‘blank canvas’, reminiscent of Google’s web search, only to morph into a dynamic navigation system that changes to meet your requirements dependent upon the contents of the results.

Exalead one:desktop 4 Professional Edition review

Setup is just a matter of selecting the relevant mail profile and then the files and folders to be indexed. Outlook and Outlook Express users can index attachments, notes, contacts, calendar entries and tasks. We like that you can change the CPU load on-the-fly from ‘not at all’, ‘as soon as possible’ and the default ‘when idle’. During initial indexing (which took 18 minutes, 30 seconds), our test PC slowed considerably, with average CPU load showing 27 per cent. During normal usage, it stayed at a fairly constant 14 per cent.

For searching, you get the usual Boolean operators, but also phonetic, fuzzy, a spellchecker, forced stemming and an approximate search. Filtering and refinement take place in the sidebar, which dynamically summarises both structure and concepts within your search results. We also like how easy it is to switch searches. For example, from a list of email results, you can simply click on an author or recipient, and the results change to list all emails from or to that person.

The integrated file viewer is almost as good as Yahoo!’s, although at first we were hard pressed to find it. It’s another piece of clever interface design: the search results listing takes up the entire screen apart from the slim navigation panel to the left, showing results as a plain text list, text and thumbnails combined or thumbnails only. Clicking on any result summary invokes the Preview panel. Formatting across all document types was excellent.

User preferences include options to filter out all adult content, which we found to be hit-and-miss, but we were grateful for the opportunity to toggle off the ‘display sponsored links’ option, which is set to ‘on’ by default. Although not finished in time for this review, the Professional Edition promises to soon include an automatic translation function for previewing documents in foreign languages.

While network drives are supported in this Professional Edition, and there’s a 30-day trial version, there’s no compelling reason to buy Exalead when the totally free Yahoo! does everything bar network searching better.

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