The team at TASMAN SOFWTARE have taken the old favourite Tasword II and moved it onto Microdrive and Opus Disk, adding more commands, more memory and greatly increasing the ease of use. This seemed to me to be a very brave step on the part of TASMAN as they must think that all their prospective customers have Microdrives or disk systems. I can see them getting a bit worried about running out of memory, but all the rest of the latest batch of word processors made it out on cassette in a very useable form .. .
The main text editor loads in one chunk, and the only other drive access you need is for dumping the text to other peripherals (printers, backing storage and so on). As with Tasword II, when you load up you go directly into the text editor, which means you can get down to work straight away.
The text editor at first glance seems the same as Tasword II, but a closer look shows that table markers or tabs are available. These are shown on the switches panel at the bottom of the screen. A PAGE BREAK switch has been added that can be used to reveal on screen how text will be printed a handy facility when it comes to producing the final version of a document. During one-screen formatting, a dotted line is displayed where the page breaks will occur on the printer.
One of the best features of Tasword III is the impressive HELP menu. This shows you every command available at the press of a key, and a quarter of the HELP page can be shown at the top of the screen while you are typing. This is useful for instance if you use printer controls regularly, the graphics symbols which Tasword III uses as printer tokens can be shown in the top quarter of the screen, so you don't forget what does what!
Tasword III only features a few brand new commands, but the old commands of the Tasword II era have been expanded considerably. The most important addition to its array of over sixty commands are the TAB commands: very useful for setting out charts or tables. TABs act rather like TAB STOPS on an ordinary typewriter and are little markers on the screen which the cursor can Jump between. The user can set up any number of character positions between any number of tab stops a very easy process and a definite plus over any other Spectrum word processor I've come across. The other new addition to Tasword III is the expansion of the screen width from 64 characters to 128, which means you can see exactly what your hard copy will look like on the screen, via the very ingenious scrolling of text across the screen.
The cursor movement has been expanded too, and it's possible to jump to the beginning and end of lines, paragraphs and printer pages (via page markers). TASMAN have gone to town on the deleting as well: words, lines, paragraphs, blocks and the plain old character behind the cursor can now be deleted, instead of just the cursor character as in Tasword II. Paragraphs and blocks have to be confirmed before deletion, and lines can be un-deleted, so there's not much chance of you ruining your text accidentally.
A very useful mode, which is missing from most word processors, is the AUTO INSERT mode. This allows the user to write directly into the middle of a piece of text without overwriting the existing text. Full use is made of the keyboard buffer here, as the existing characters have to be scrolled forward on to the next line.
Tasword III features a very comprehensive printer menu which has all the features of Word Manager and more. With all the headers, footers and page number combinations it would be fairly easy to print a simple magazine using Tasword III.
There's a word count in Tasword lit the search and replace option has been speeded up and the cursor speed has also been increased, thus rectifying the main problems with Tasword II. The package offers full value for money, with a word processor, a Tasword A translation program, a Masterfile interpreter, an introduction letter and tutor as well as a simple but very effective data merge file (which can be used instead of Masterfile) included on the cartridge or disk.
There is no doubt about it, to my mind TASMAN have now definitely got the top spot as far as word processors go. With the price of printers and disc drives dropping by the month it's almost worth popping out and getting a system to try it out on. One look at Tasword III will take the words out of your mouth.
User Friendliness: 10
Speed of Operation: 9
Tab Markers: 8
Mail Merge: 8
Peripheral Compatibility: 8
Printer Options: 8
Screen Line (chars): 64
Printer Line (chars): 128
Word Count: Yes
CRITICISMGeneral Rating: Not Rated
A TASWORD III text file in preparation, with a quarter of the help page lurking at the top of the screen to jog that lazy memory. Note the status line at the bottom of the screen which shows you how the global commands, such as justification and wordwrap, have been set.