DiskJockey File Viewer SE

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, September 2004
Published by: Clear & Simple, Inc.
Requires: Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000 or XP; Pentium or compatible CPU, 32MB RAM, 32MB free hard drive space, Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher
MSRP: US$29.95 (Standard Edition, $69.95 (Deluxe Edition)

(Ed. Note: Since this review was published, DiskJockey has been updated for Windows Vista compatibility)

First, let's get a couple of things straight. DiskJockey File Viewer is not just a file viewer. It's actually the grand successor to DiskJockey 2000, which makes it a file manager, file viewer, ZIP utility, encryption/decryption utility, mini web browser, and FTP client. There are no individual modules here mind you. The DiskJockey components are seamlessly integrated in a unified interface that provides all the control most people will ever need over the files stored on their computers and on the Internet.

There are a few other file managers out there—the competition is stiff, no doubt about it—and in order to compete, each product has to shine in some area(s) in order to distinguish itself from the rabble. DiskJockey File Viewer shines in the (you guessed it) file viewing department. That it's also a terrific replacement for the inefficient and uninspiring Windows Explorer is a bonus. The question is, do you really need a file manager and viewer? The short answer is Yes, you certainly do. There are a lot of good reasons.

The average home computer contains approximately 58,000 files occupying 20GB of hard drive space. If there's a digital photographer in the house, make that an average of 62,000 files occupying 30GB of hard drive space. If there's a digital photographer and a digital video hobbyist in the house, make that 75,000 files occupying 60GB of hard drive space. Typical office computers average 30,000 files occupying 8GB to 10GB of hard drive space. These numbers should help you understand why Microsoft has to do something to speed up file searches in Windows. The Windows file indexing service is a terrible resource hog and noticeably slows down systems when it's active. But finding files is just part of the equation. The most important thing is viewing the files you find. More often than not, especially when it comes to browsing images and documents, all we want to do is quickly scan through a folder of files, quickly viewing each one in turn in order to find the file we want (often because simply looking at our poor choices of file names doesn't tell us much). It makes sense then that having a file manager and viewer under one roof is a good thing. DiskJockey File Viewer is built on that premise.

DiskJockey, in one form or another, has been around since 1996 and loyal users have enjoyed regular updates. I reviewed DiskJockey File Viewer v4 release 1.03. I installed and ran the program on a Pentium 4 Celeron 1.7GHz computer with 512MB RAM and running Windows XP Professional. This particular computer is a daily driver for two different people and sees a lot of use as a general file manager, photo editing platform and so on.

DiskJockey performs all of the standard file management functions: copying, moving, deleting, renaming, creating folders, finding files and formatting diskettes. When you click on a folder, DiskJockey lists all the files in the folder and displays important file and folder system information. DiskJockey can be easily configured to display information in dual list panes (horizontally: two on top, two on the bottom; or in a vertical setup), making drag & drop functions, folder contents comparisons and other actions a breeze and much more efficient. Unlike other dual-pane file managers however, DiskJockey File Viewer has a third pane in each column or row which functions as a file viewer. Click on a file in any of 220 formats and it will be displayed in the viewer pane. Microsoft Word files are displayed as Word text, without graphics or fancy formatting but with the general layout intact. Excel files on the other hand are displayed with most formatting intact. We tried a variety of digital image files too, and only managed to stump DiskJockey with encapsulated postscript (EPS) graphics files and AutoCAD (DWG) drawing files. All other common image and graphics formats were fine (BMP, JPG, TIF, TGA, PSD, etc., etc.).

The mini browser is quite useful in a variety of situations. The first web site you browse appears in the viewer pane, but shift-clicking a link will start a full Internet Explorer (IE) browser window complete with Favorites and the entire IE interface.

Clear & Simple has also paid attention to all the buzz over the past few years about security and privacy. The encryption and decryption tool works quickly and well to secure individual files and folders from prying eyes. Having any kind of encryption tool ready at hand is great and the fact that this one is built into the main interface is even better. Select a file, click encrypt, select a default action (encrypt permanently or only for the current DiskJockey session) type a password, click OK. To open an encrypted file, all you have to do is select it then click the decrypt button or right click and select decrypt from the context menu.

DiskJockey also features a quick little ZIP compression utility. Select a group of files, click the QZip icon and you'll get an easy to understand dialog which will quickly help you create ZIP compatible archives. As usual with ZIP, compression results vary depending on the compressibility of the files you've selected, but the thing we like about QZip is that's it's much simpler and easier to use than full blown utilities such as WinZIP. In any case, QZip makes creating backup archives much less of a chore.

Cons: The FTP integration works well enough, but you have to manually switch between ASCII and binary transfer modes, something which is automatically detected and switched in most other FTP clients. You can't select an image in the viewer pane and set it as your desktop image, a function which is commonly provided in other file viewers. Program preference settings are scattered partly in a drop-down menu and partly in an options dialog; the UI designer should always insist that this stuff go into a single tab- or list-style dialog. The file loading progress bar doesn't always clear after a file has finished loading into the viewer; the problem is intermittent and doesn't affect use. There's no Back arrow or directory Up arrow in the file list panes which means you've got to use the mouse to navigate directories. Drag & Drop is not fully supported, e.g., you can't drag & drop between file list panes, only between a list pane and a folder pane. Word files are displayed without formatting—text only—although basic layout is retained.

Pros: Fast. Real fast. Network access is quick, local access is quicker, and the whole program feels solid and reliable. No file access delays of any kind. Very stable operation with quick redraws and list pane updates. Easy to navigate menus. Manual (F5) refresh of list and folder panes. Robust file viewer which handles all commonly available formats. There's nothing quite like being able to browse a list of files, viewing each one in turn, performing file management tasks as you go, all without leaving the program. You can choose between a native DiskJockey context menu or the Windows default context menu and switch on the fly. Viewer runs on top of Internet Explorer so you can switch to the IE file viewer at any time and without leaving the DiskJockey viewer pane. DiskJockey viewer pane automatically resizes image displays to fit the viewer pane. As a general purpose file manager and viewer, DiskJockey File Viewer v4 will serve most people's needs. Recommended.




© Copyright 2000-2007 kickstartnews.com. All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe