xplorer² Professional v1.3

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, November 2005
Published by: Nikos Bozinis
Requires: Windows 95 or later including Vista

MSRP: €19.95, US$25.00

You'll notice that the suggested retail price in the review heading is shown in Euros as well as U.S. dollars. That's because the software I'm reviewing is developed by a European programmer. The thing is, the "Inter" in Internet really does seem to stand for International and the Kickstartnews gang always looks for software—excellent software—no matter where it pops up. As well, all of us former Atari guys know about good European software because we used to live off that stuff! Anyway, xplorer² Professional is from "over there" (the Czech Republic to be specific) unless of course you actually live "over there" which means that we're "over there" to you and, well, never mind. There's an enormous amount of superb and useful software coming out of Europe—dozens of products every week from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Germany, France and on and on. Competition in the utility software category has never been stronger. xplorer² Professional is a serious replacement for Windows Explorer and is designed to be a comprehensive file management utility for any Windows PC user (at home, business, home, school, network or wherever).

I've got two long-time favorite file managers: VCOM's PowerDesk Pro and Christian Ghisler's Total Commander (formerly Windows Commander). I also have to give a nod to Novatix' ExplorerPlus which is much newer than the first two, but is so feature-packed (and reliable) that it is hard to ignore. PowerDesk 6 shines as a do-it-all file manager, desktop & file information tool, and program launcher. But our beloved PowerDesk 6 cannot stand up to day-long use without a restart from time to time, while xplorer² Professional just keeps going and going.

Total Commander is a pure do-it-all file manager with an additional command line component that expands the utility into a general system maintenance tool, power which is also available in xplorer² Professional front & center if you need it. That's nice too (although it's an up-front feature that I never use). So the quest for the perfect file manager (or at least for MY perfect file manager) has to begin with the best of both worlds: multiple panes/windows, full drag & drop support between all panes/windows, multiple drive views, fast access to any drive from any pane/window, quick switching between paths/drives, full network file management compatibility, fast access to frequently used paths (bookmarks, favorites or whatever you want to call it), and last but by no means least, an easy to use interface that is not cluttered with needless and inefficient fluff. File managers, no matter how far beyond the strictest definition designers have gone, have to work efficiently and be easily accessed and used.

I'll be darned if xplorer² Professional isn't rapidly becoming my favorite file manager. At first I griped to myself about the absence of Total Commander's dedicated drive list for each pane. But as I got used to accessing various drives, paths, files and folders from the navigation bar built into the top of each pane in xplorer² Professional, I forgot all about Total Commander. Also at first, I griped about the absence of the program launch capabilities which are so front & center in PowerDesk Pro. But with a command line built into xplorer² Professional, I can actually launch amost anything I want.

During the course of the review I used xplorer² Professional daily for five weeks. The software proved to be completely stable, with excellent compatibility, no crashes, and perfectly handled files of all sizes, types and descriptions. I found myself quite attracted to many of xplorer² Professional's unique features including Paste Special (which lets you paste the entire original folder structure of a file you've copied), Sync-Touch (which lets you match modification dates of items from the active pane to the inactive pane), ADS handling (which lets you transfer NTFS-based files with alternate data stream information intact), and a built in file shredder for doing permanent deletions. There's lots more.

Cons: I'm a dyed-in-the-wool custom drive button lover. Take a look at Total Commander and you'll see what I mean—there's a complete set of drive buttons above each pane. xplorer² Professional's pane header is very versatile but not all drives are available with one click in every session unless you've previously accessed them during the session. True, double-clicking the current drive letter will display My Computer in the file pane, but what if you don't want to lose your current location? You can certainly click the back button however many times are required to return to the previous location, but less experienced users could lose their way. Give me access to all drives directly in each pane please.

Pros: Extremely stable. As a file manager it makes great sense, with lots of little tricks built-in which make file managment less of a chore. The smart column headers which react to left and right path clicks are delightful and let you stroll around even the most massive and complicated drives with ease. As usual, triple column display option serves to help you keep track of where you are in relation to the boot drive. I also love the Autofilter function—click the button on the toolbar to get a pop-up list of all file types in the current directory, any of which you can then click to filter the directory. I don't think I've seen the filter function implemented quite this way anywhere else. xplorer² Professional contains at least a dozen user helpers. Sticky Selection is a great example. Start it by hitting Alt+S, after which everything you click in the current file pane remains selected—no more Ctrl clicking to select multiple files at random. Nice. Bookmarks is another interesting feature which lets create a master list of paths to folders you frequently access. Once you've created a bookmark, you can click it in the list on the Bookmark menu and you'll go directly there in any active pane. Nice again, very handy, and almost like having Access Folders built into the file manager (which of course brings back memories from the old days about the great utility combo of Universal Item Selector III and FastPath—great stuff for a long-dead platform unfortunately—e-mail me if you remember those two programs). xplorer² Professional is a terrific product that I'll be using every day for the foreseeable future, probably until the next great file manager comes along and steals the crown. Highly recommended.





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


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe