Offline browsing gets a boost

Offline browsers are nothing new, but Blue Squirrel has just come out with a spanking-new version of its WebWhacker software, featuring some slick new tricks.

WebWhacker 2000 lets you download and store entire Web sites -- text, graphics, links, the whole shebang. You can then weave your way through the sites faster and more reliably, without having to stay online.

That can make the Web much more accessible. Twenty dollars a month may buy unlimited Web access, but for a lot of people, time is the real commodity. For those of us whose only Web connection is the home phone line, or who live in a household where you have to elbow your way to the computer, offline browsing is a smart solution.

Chock-full of features

WebWhacker 2000's interface is easy to navigate, and downloaded sites are updated automatically. That means you can punch in your favourite URL and let WebWhacker do the rest. While you're out putting on the golf course, WebWhacker will refresh your pages and notify you of the changes when you return.

WebWhacker also lets you select how many levels of a Web site you want to download. The first level is the front page of the site. The next level is whatever you would click on to link to other sections of the site. If you are visiting Salon, for example, the first level takes you to the headlines, and the next takes you to all the stories linked to those headlines.

BlueSquirrel has also added support for Java and proxy servers to WebWhacker 2000. I had no problem downloading extensive information, even with a firewall.

If you do most of your Internet browsing at work, or you have several phone lines at home, WebWhacker is pretty pointless. And of course, offline browsing will never replace the joy of taking a ride on the information superhighway.

But WebWhacker is definitely an economical solution for those looking to save time online. It gives you more control and lets you browse at your leisure.

WebWhacker 2000

Price: $US49.95

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Desiree Everts

PC World
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