Max's Toolbox PC Review - -

Installation 9.0
Ease of use 9.0
Usefulness 8.0
Value 8.0
Distributor: Scholastic
Andrew B


Max's Toolbox

"Teach kids valuable life skills such as word processing, how to use spreadsheets and how to create professional-looking presentations."

As computers become a staple diet of the average Australian household, children are slowly becoming more and more adept at using these tools. Not only does this teach them valuable life skills but it also gives them an advantage for the future.

As we all know, computers can be difficult to use at the best of times and fortunately for the younger generation of computer users, Scholastic has once again come to the rescue with Max's Toolbox that basically implements a user-friendly interface into the Microsoft Office family.

The installation of Max's Toolbox was a breeze and once the CD was detected, it then prompted the user a series of options for installing the "user-friendly" interface over Microsoft Office. The program also comes with an extremely thorough online manual and also a tutorial that assists both parents & children and teachers & students how to use Max's Toolbox.

The more indepth features of the manual teaches adults how to configure the software for network drives and how to create separate user logins for students or siblings.

Max's Toolbox contains three different products that interface with Microsoft Office which include:

  • MaxWrite for Microsoft Word

  • MaxShow for Microsoft PowerPoint

  • MaxCount for Microsoft Excel

The interface of Max's Toolbox basically replaces the icons of Office with "child" friendly icons that are big, bright and colourful. The beauty of Max's Toolbox is that not only is the interface easy to use but it's also kept simplistic so children won't get lost in complicated menus or menus within menus. Apart from the excellent interface, the program also comes with a myriad of "child" friendly templates such as special occasions (birthdays and invitations) or letters.

MaxWrite for Microsoft Word not only lets children write their own stories or thoughts but also their own storyboards through tools such as Doodle Pad or through the pre-existing templates. MaxShow for Microsoft PowerPoint allows children to create their own easy to use PowerPoint presentations that also allows them to add their own pictures and voices to the presentation by a simple click and point process. Last but not least is MaxCount for Microsoft Excel that teaches children the basics of this excellent spreadsheet program such as counting, charts and tables.

Max's Toolbox is an excellent software package that is actually made by a South Australia software company which has also been approved by the Australian Department of Education and Training. The software is aimed at both teachers and parents and considering that this program is used by a variety of primary schools across Australia, parents should consider this software for giving their children that extra edge at school. The only downside to the software package is the online manual (manuals should be printed) and that the program requires a relatively powerful computer system to run it which may limit users of older systems.

In conclusion, Max's Toolbox is an extremely professional interface for Microsoft Office that is aimed at children five and over and really gives them an insight into this powerful office package but with an easy to use interface that focuses on "keep it simple." The beauty of Max's Toolbox is that it doesn't restrict children in their learning process but rather assists them. Highly Recommended!

The following system requirements are mandatory for Max's Toolbox:
  • Microsoft® Windows®98SE, ME, 2000 SP3 or XP SP1 operating system
  • Microsoft® Office 2000 SR2, XP SP1 or 2003

The following system requirements are the recommended minimum for Max's Toolbox:

  • Intel Pentium III 500Mhz or higher
  • Minimum 800 x 600 16 bit colour (preferably 1024 x 768 24 bit colour)
    NOTE: If you are using Office XP and 16 bit colour, the toolbar buttons will appear distorted. This is a limitation of Office XP. Please set you colour settings to 24 bit if available.
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Windows Media Player for Insert Movie feature
  • Sound card and speakers for text to speech feature
  • Microphone for recording feature
  • 380Mb Available Hard Disk Space for Complete Installation

The following RAM and Service Release requirements are mandatory for Max's Toolbox:

Operating System Version of Office RAM
Windows 98SE Office 2000 SR2 128Mb
  Office XP SP1 256Mb
Windows ME Office 2000 SR2 128Mb
  Office XP SP1 256Mb
Windows 2000 SP3 Office 2000 SR2 256Mb
  Office XP SP1 256Mb
  Office 2003 256Mb
Windows XP SP1 Office 2000 SR2 256Mb
  Office XP SP1 256Mb
  Office 2003 256Mb



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