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AccountEdge's flowchart-like navigation hub might not jibe with some analytical minds.
There's something of a duopoly in small-business accounting software. Intuit's QuickBooks (which we reviewed in March of this year) may be the market leader, but underdog AccountEdge has a lot going for it. And hey, if anybody understands that market share isn't everything, it's Mac users.
For 2007, AccountEdge sports about a dozen new features. While some of them are arguably trivial - for example, the Allocation Memo field shows up more often in some reports - a few piqued our interest. AccountEdge has added support for sync services, thereby allowing you to synchronize your Address Book with AccountEdge's Cards List. We also welcome the expansion of email capabilities. AccountEdge now allows you to queue up a batch of forms to be dispatched via email. When the batch is ready to go, email messages are created with PDF files attached. While the documentation generally refers to Apple Mail when discussing email, we found it to work fine with Microsoft Entourage as well.
The new features are nice enough, but we found some of the older features to be quite compelling, particularly when compared to the app's closest competitor, QuickBooks. Primary among those features is networking, which permits up to five simultaneous users to access a single file. QuickBooks doesn't offer Mac customers networking at any price. Helping to bridge the PC divide, AccountEdge's file format is platform-independent. It's something we've come to expect from cross-platform applications, and it's vastly preferable to the conversion schemes QuickBooks foists on its Mac users.
Our AccountEdge experience wasn't all adoration, though. We found a disappointing weakness in the custom-forms feature. Intended to help you create professional-looking forms, the custom-forms tools are confusing and needlessly complicated, and they lack depth. Adding an image to a form illustrates the point: With the form editor open, AccountEdge requires no fewer than seven steps to place an image on the form. And no, you can't drag and drop.
Another factor to weigh when evaluating AccountEdge is its peculiar interface. Designed, perhaps, by and for the visual thinker, our more analytical minds struggled with it at times. The MYOB Command Center is the navigation hub of the software. It presents sections such as Accounts, Banking, Inventory, and Payroll across the top of the window, and a flowchart-like menu of options below the selected section. The appeal of this approach will vary by user, but we weren't thrilled.
The bottom line. While we found AccountEdge to be a fine product, we're not so enthused with it that we're going to recommend dropping your existing system to switch. If, however, you're looking for a new accounting package or you're just launching your business, you should seriously consider AccountEdge. Just to sweeten the pot, MYOB offers a free copy for your accountant when you buy a copy. Score one for the underdog.
PRICE: $299, $159 upgrade, $150 for additional network licenses
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.3.9 or later (Mac OS 10.4 or later is required for syncing with Address Book)
Networkable. Cross-platform file format. Free copy for your accountant. Universal binary.
Peculiar interface and navigation. Weak forms designer.