Very soon, when OS 9 is released, you will have the opportunity to try Sherlock 2. In the meantime, Copernic 99 offers many similar features – plus some new ones.
The basic version of Copernic 99 is available for download, and for the moment, it’s free. The Plus version gives you more than 20 search categories, rather than the four in the free version. These categories can be added to as Copernic develops new ones. Already, there are some new ones available, such as Jobs and MP3 files.
The layout of Copernic 99 is more like a self-contained browser than a conventional search engine. It fills the screen – and it needs to, to show all the search options available. The left-hand column holds the different search categories – such as General, News and Email addresses. There are also more specialized categories, like Health, Jobs, Kids, Recipes and Movies. To search you click on the most relevant category and type your request. This queries the most suitable search engines for your request. Unfortunately, not all the most relevant search engines are included, particularly UK-specific engines.
For example, the Job-search category has loads of job databases to search, but all are US-centric – so are useless to all but the most adventurous UK job-seeker. This is the case with many other categories, but it would be relatively simple for Copernic to fix that. There is already a French language search available, and a Japanese version of the software. If somebody at Copernic is listening, could we please have some UK-specific searches?
The US-centric searches don’t spoil the software totally – after all, Sherlock 2 isn’t particularly UK-focused. It is a fact of life that most Web pages are found in the US, and many US search engines do have UK content included.
Copernic displays in the main window, with the score, location and search engine scanned shown. Compared with Sherlock 2, Copernic consistently found a few extra pages with its search, though the results vary with each search. The clever thing about Copernic, is its ability to check each page before you visit it. Just click on the verify button and each page is checked for bad links. No more “error 404s” is almost worth the price alone.
Once you get your paws on Sherlock 2, there is no compelling reason to spend more money on Copernic 99 Plus. It does some things differently, some things better, and some things worse. It is certainly worth looking at, and you can do that for free by downloading the demo at www.copernic.com. There is a Windows version, which is going to be more important in the PC world – as it didn’t have a Sherlock-type search tool until Copernic 99. However, people that use Macs need only wait for the next OS before this stuff is built in.