Grand Central Pro 2.0

A few years ago the ISDN market was a minefield, riddled with incompatible protocols, hardware and languages. Gradually the UK market has become less fraught with inconsistencies. When 4-Sight succumbed to the Wam!Net take-over, one of the two main UK protocols became a proprietary network. Still, in the rest of Europe and around the world, different protocols are used. Relax
If this scares you, don't worry - Hermstedt has just released Grand Central Pro 2.0, an ISDN file-transfer software that can talk in any language. This isn't a new feature for GC Pro, but it is the one thing that makes it a must-have for ISDN transfers. The French Easy Transfer protocol is available, as is the European standard Télédisquette, and even Hermstedt's old adversary ISDN Manager is catered for. The interface has been improved, so it is less complex to set up and easier to use. There are now hot folders that can be set-up to send their contents automatically. This also allows people to send files from other machines on the network. It isn't the same as having Grand Central on your machine, but it's simpler to use. A real bonus for users of Hermstedt ISDN cards is on-the-fly compression. It only works with a Hermstedt card and GC Pro at each end, but it speeds things up no end. A status window shows how fast data is being transferred. The screenshot (left) shows a transfer rate of 1,436Kbps over a two-channel connection. Normally, a two-channel connection would top-out at 128Kbps. The compression rates vary, depending on the file being transferred. Files such as JPEG or compressed TIFF files don't reduce much, but files, such as QuarkXPress pages go at least twice as fast with the compression. One of the factors that other systems like Wam!Net have over the more open standards like Grand Central is job tracking. While this isn't really feasible with an open system, Hermstedt has included etf JobTicket. This means a page from XPress or InDesign, for example, can be sent with a ticket that tracks changes and additions to the file - smoothing the workflow and lessening the chances of misunderstandings. Sending files has always been fairly straightforward, but now GC Pro can pull files from a remote server. Different folders can be set-up with password protection for different clients. Another addition to GC Pro is an FTP Server. Previous versions had an FTP client, but the server allows hosting of files for Internet access or private client connections.

OUR VERDICT

Hermstedt has done a great job of updating an already fine application. If you need compatibility, compression and ease of use for an ISDN connection, there is nothing better than Grand Central Pro.

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