|★ APPLICATIONS ★ BUREAUTIQUE ★ E-TYPE|8000 Plus) ★|
It doesn't sound promising - paying twenty-five quid to turn your five hundred pound PCW back into a fifty quid typewriter. Anyway, you've got ‘Direct Printing' in LocoScript already, which imitates a typewriter pretty well. So what does E-Type do that LocoScript doesn't?
Pressing D in Loco's disc manager lets you output line-by-line to the printer. You type your text, edit if necessary, and as soon as you hit [RETURN] it gets sent to the printer. By pressing [PTR] then [f6] you can alter the left offset, and so move the print head rightwards any amount you like. This enables you to fill in forms, for example, and use the PCW just like you would a typewriter.
On starting up E-Type you see a few commands listed and a representation of the top of a sheet of paper. As you type, the text appears on the paper which moves up just as if it were coming off a typewriter platen. You can use the cursors to move forwards, backwards or downwards, but not back over text already typed and not upwards
You have several different modes of operation: you can have each line printed (just like Loco's direct printing), or go for character-by-character printing. This is what you'd use for forms as you can press the space bar to move across the form until you're in the right place for the slot to fill. It's rather quicker and more convenient than Loco's Direct Printing.
You can also have things aligned against the right margin or have them printed out justified, both of which can be done in LocoScript. You can't centre text as LocoScript lets you.
A word count facility lets you know how many words you've typed (for those forms which demand why you want to succeed in not less than 2,000 words) and various options are open such as setting margins, typing in bold, turning the bleeper on and off, word wrap and so on.
When you finish typing you have the option of saving the format you've been working in (margins, tabs, mode of operation and so on) for another time. Of course you can't do this ip Direct Printing in LocoScript.
The theory is all well and good, but there are a lot problems. The manual - while professionally put together, well up to the usual Digita standards - is not specific to the PCW and rather irritatingly has ‘Not available of (sic) the PCW' after many functions described. It misses out a lot of explanations of things everybody will find confusing. For example, on our pre-production copy many of the commands are shown on the menu as ^L with no indication as to what ^ means. It isn't an up-arrow ([EXTRA]-semicolon) - it is in fact standard computing jargon for the [CONTROL] key, which on your PCW is [ALT]. But how many typists, given a PCW and this program and told to get on with it, would know that?
If used on the 9512 there can be problems with the printer -you must rename a 'printer driver' file. If you don't you get effects like the program ceasing to work for several seconds at the end of a line, finally coming back with a helpfu! ‘LPT not ready - Retry, Ignore or Cancel?' message, or spurious zeroes appearing at the beginning of lines.
Attempts to print out a £ sign elicit a beep. Trying to turn off the beep, even armed with the knowledge that ^L means [ALT]L, is no use as this command has no effect. E-Type has facilities letting you control the printer more fully, to print out £ signs for example, but few typists will be keen to write their own printer drivers according to codes in the printer manual.
The idea behind E-Type isn't a bad one, except that it doesn't really do anything that LocoScript (which you have already for free) or Protext can't do. Our review copy had the odd bug, though Digita have said they have been fixed for the production version.
But even so, at twenty-five quid it's ridiculously overpriced. For that money you could buy Pocket Protext, or a second-hand manual typewriter, or a nice dinner for two at a good Indian restaurant. See you at the Bath Tandoori.