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Review of:
Surf Express
 
by Dr. Bob O'Connor, Alamo PC

Connectix' Surf Express claims to give a user the capability to "surf the Web up to 36 Times Faster" Since more people daily enter the internet and most don't have the 56 K modems this is a pretty attractive claim. If true it should become a best seller. If not, it would seem to violate the canons of "truth in advertising." 

Surf Express claims to achieve its speed through acting as a proxy server, enabling "smart" caching and "smart-fetching" that reduce the seek times for URLs that have been reached before. So, the benefit from Surf Express will not be achieved upon first usage, but rather after time, when you're returning to sites you visited after having installed Surf Express. 

 Installation from the CD ROM couldn't have been easier and it took fewer than two minutes! 

I was skeptical at first because of advertising room jargon like "smart fetch" etc. But, after an hour with Surf Express, I'm a believer. I can't say that that sites were loaded 36 times faster, but I can say comfortably that when loaded from Surf Express's cache, there was virtually no waiting. I moved in and out of Netscape and retrieved sites faster than I'd ever done. Surf Express strikes me as well designed with a clean, uncluttered look and feel about it. There is little to learn before you can be "gainfully employed." 

 I tested Surf Express on an EPS Technologies P120 laptop with 40MB RAM. The machine is no "screamer" which made the Surf Express effect all the more welcome. It should be emphasized though that the page that's is quickly retrieved is one that was loaded before, and so, may not be as current as the user would want. Surf Express provides an alert with a hot link "Click HERE" to retrieve the most current network version, but, of course, since it is not loading from cache, it loads at the normal speed. 

Once loaded, Surf Express can remain as a taskbar icon. When opened to the "Search cache option," the user can search the cache and double-clicking opens the browser and retrieves the (cached) URL. I found this to be a great convenience. 

 There are other characteristics that I appreciated about Surf Express. They put the accompanying documentation, modest as it is as a 28 page booklet, in a HTML format, which is visually very attractive as well as easy to navigate. Perhaps the most important information for a prospective user comes from Surf Express 's booklet. And, so, I'll let Connectix speak for itself about the limitations of Surf Express. The user should realize that Surf Express cannot create magically faster modems, will not benefit all users to the same degree, and will not affect other than HTTP traffic. 

 "First, Surf Express won't turn a 28.8 modem into a 57.6 modem. Surf Express focuses on speeding up specific software bottlenecks that aren't addressed by upgrading your hardware. 

 "Second, Surf Express shows the most benefit to users with lower-speed network access(analog modems or ISDN). When you're using a T-1 line or faster, the difference in loading a Web page from your hard drive versus from the network is usually negligible. You need to use Surf Express with an analog modem or ISDN connection to fully appreciate its performance boost. 

 "Third, Surf Express only accelerates HTTP traffic. Surf Express will not improve FTP transfer rates, e-mail download times, or any network operation other than Web browsing." 

 That said, and with the flush of early success, I highly recommend Surf Express. Surf Express requires Windows 95/NT or Macintosh and can be purchased on the internet for $29.95. 

 Connectix can be reached in various ways: WWW: http://www.connectix.com/; Fax: (650) 571-5195; Phone: (650) 571-5100 or (800) 950-5880. 

Bob O'Connor is on the Board of Directors of ALamo PC and is a theology professor at St. Mary's University in his spare time.