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Don't be fooled by the $50 price tag on the 2006 version of Simply Accounting Basic. This updated small-business accounting application from Sage Software (formerly Best Software) offers a lot more bang for your bookkeeping buck than its chief rivals do.
The new version makes it easier to design custom accounting forms and features better integration with Microsoft Office than previous versions. It has strong capabilities for such an inexpensive program, including support for dual currencies--useful in import/export businesses.
The Basic version lets you synchronize customer and vendor records with Microsoft Outlook contacts, formerly possible only with the Pro version. You can also use MS Word templates to prepare customer form letters, and you can create financial reports in MS Excel. Simply Basic stores accounting data in an MS Access database. The application has most but not all of the MS Office integration smarts found in Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 ($179 list), so it's a credible alternative with a much lower price.
Simply Accounting Basic's redesigned Home Window is easier to use than the previous version's, with better menus for access to the program's general ledger, customer, vendor, employee, inventory, and project-tracking capabilities.
An improved wizard provides more help with setting up a new company. Checks are easier to align for printing. There's even a little eye candy: You can now display JPG and GIF images of your products and services.
A larger payroll-check window enhances your view of income and deduction fields. If you use Simply Basic to prepare payroll, for efficiency's sake you should consider subscribing to the optional payroll tax table update service for $279 per year.
The shipping copy of Simply Accounting Basic 13 that I reviewed is a single-user application developed to handle entry-level business accounting needs. Sage also offers more-powerful (and pricier) versions of Simply Accounting with multiuser capabilities, but we didn't review these packages.
If you're currently using a spreadsheet (such as Excel) or a personal finance application (such as Quicken) to track business finances, you'll discover that Simply Accounting Basic represents a logical step up from what you work with now. Its improved import/export wizard simplifies importing data from Excel, Quicken, QuickBooks, and MYOB.
Simply Accounting Basic will undountedly attract the bargain-hunting bean counters who tend to each bean vigilantly. Its features compare most closely with those of Intuit's QuickBooks Pro edition, which costs $200--four times as much as Simply Basic. QuickBooks' entry-level Simple Start costs twice as much ($100) and delivers far less accounting power.
The added capabilities make this version a worthwhile upgrade for existing Simply Basic users, while the low price will tempt some Intuit users to switch allegiance.
Sage Software Simply Accounting Basic 13PCW Rating
Easy-to-use, low-cost bookkeeping program is perfect for budding small businesses.
Price when reviewed: $50
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