UK Info Disk 2001 Pro

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  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good

Pros

  • A comprehensive CD- and Web-based directory enquiries service
  • a range of additional services including route finding, aerial photography, company reports and credit reports.

Cons

  • The cost and duration of Web-based searches may price the average home user out of all but the basic levels.

UK Info Disk started life several years ago as a CD-based alternative to directory enquiries, and in the early days the accuracy of much of the data was distinctly suspect. More recently, i-CD Publishing has made great efforts to ensure that the information is as accurate and up to date as possible. UK Info Disk 2001 Pro is based primarily on BT's OSIS database and the UK Electoral Roll (2000), and contains some 44 million residential and 5 million business listings, as well as 17 million telephone numbers.

Due to the nature of the data, it is inevitable that this type of CD will be out of date quite quickly, which is why i-CD has been repositioning its product towards a Web-based service. The advantages of the Web site are primarily that it offers a variety of extras, several of which are based on other Web providers, and that the data can be kept up to date on a daily basis.

In any case, if you buy the CD you get a six-month subscription to the Web site. Likewise, if you subscribe to the Web site, i-CD will send you the appropriate CD. The Home, Standard and Professional CD versions correspond to the Bronze, Silver and Gold Web subscriptions. The Web site also has a basic membership that requires registration but is free of charge.

The main differences between the levels of membership are the number of initial free searches you have (up to 1,000), the number of additional free searches per month (up to 50) and the versatility of the search methods you can use. For instance, the Professional/Gold version allows linked searches that only locate listings where all the specified people can be found at the same address. The Silver version allows you to search by 'who' alone, while the Bronze and free memberships require 'who' and 'where'.

The online version contains a variety of extra services. For instance, you can access an aerial photograph of any address you do a search on (most areas are covered), although the resulting image is pretty small. A larger version is available from a partner site, but you must pay for it. Similarly, business users may be interested in the integration with Creditline's Web site, where a credit report can be created instantly for £16.

Both the CD and the Web site work remarkably well, and our test searches were executed quickly and accurately. Access to the CD data is unlimited, but the cost and duration of the Web-based searches will probably price the average home user out of all but the basic levels, which is a shame. The 'free' Web service is also -- not unreasonably -- pretty curtailed. For instance, you can search the 2000 Electoral Roll, but you will be told that Gold membership is required if you try the 'find neighbours' option.

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Business users and anyone doing multiple directory enquiries searches will soon find the product a money saver, however, and the only question is the membership level you require. i-CD is also developing the range of services at a rapid rate, and the Web site is most definitely one for your shortlist.

Early versions of UK Info Disk were based on OCR'd information and were not particularly accurate. Even the previous version had some minor but irritating bugs. However, it now appears to have matured into the best available product of its type.

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