The Graham Utilities for OS/2: A Review - Part 4

By: Walter Metcalf
Dateline: 02/03/99

"What do you want to use it for?" A good consultant will tell you this is the only correct answer to the question, "What is the best computer?" [If you want it to help teach your pre-school child, then any moderately-priced computer is OK; but if you want it to be able to crack enemy encryption codes then you want a couple of Crays.]

"What do you want to use it for?" is probably also the correct answer to the question, "I can afford either Gammatech Utilities or Graham Utilities, but not both; which should I buy?"¹

The best way to compare the Graham and Gammatech sets is with three observations:

  1. They are different products with a considerable amount of overlap:

    1. Similarities - both have sector editors, defragmentors, undelete programs, etc.

    2. Differences - Gammatech has FileSentry and the very versatile Files utility; Graham has low-level HPFS and MIME as well as the high-level TaskManager.

  2. Their basic orientations toward the utility problem is different:

    1. At the time of writing Graham Utilities are quite biased toward command-line usage. On the other the Gammatech Utilities are most naturally used in GUI mode with a mouse--indeed many utilities can only be used that way.

    2. However each Utility set can "switch-hit"--there are some functions that can be used in the opposite mode. The outstanding example is Task Manager in the Graham Utility package.²

  3. Finally, the issue of price and "maintenance cost" in this case is too large to ignore. The cost of Gammatech Utilities with CD and manual is $99.95. The current cost of Graham Utilities from WarpSpeed Computers with a hard-copy manual is $69.00 US. (Both are available for less electronically.) That is only the tip of the iceberg. As new (even minor) fixes or features are added to the Gammatech Utilities, they are released as new versions of the complete product, which must be purchased at sometimes only a small upgrade discount. (Last Christmas, however, the new version could be had electronically at half the regular price.) With Graham Utilities, the situation is completely different. After the initial purchase of version of 2.x, all additional fixes, and new features (including Task Manager) are released as free downloads from the author's web site.

Both Graham and Gammatech are fine products, and it is tough to choose to between them. However, taking into consideration the breadth of coverage, power, and maintenance cost I'm giving the nod to Graham Utilities.³

Note that if you're not technically inclined and your needs are simple you may still prefer Gammatech Utilities. However, keep in mind the downstream upgrade cost. If you're having trouble deciding, I suggest you download the demo version of Graham Utilities, and see how you like the utilities. If you find them too awkward, then go with Gammatech. Unfortunately there's no demo for Gammatech.

One final note: Chris has informed me he will be releasing another update (CSD) very shortly. When he does, I'll do an update to this review.

¹Note that I've deliberately omitted the best alternative: buy both.

²Author Chris Graham continues to develop his product even after 8 years, and is working to add more GUI-oriented utilities and enhancements.

³Note: For the sake of complete disclosure, let me state here that Chris Graham gave me a free copy of The Graham Utilities for OS/2 for this review . However, I have taken due care not to let this affect my evaluation.

For Further Reading:

The Graham Utilities for OS/2 - Version 2- Online Manual © 1998 Chris Graham

GammaTech Utilities - Version 4.0 - Description of Utilities © 1999 GammaTech, Inc.

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