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Matrox Parhelia Review - Page 20 of 21

USER INTERFACE / HELP

This is the first time that I decided to place any emphasis on either "User Interface" or "Help" for a particular review. Why? Because, this board has a ton of options, and there's a strong potential for a user to get lost in both how one configures the hardware, as well as the software.

With that said, I've got to give Matrox a heck of a lot of credit in these 2 areas:

  • Help Files
  • User Interface

In my experience as a developer, I place strong emphasis on providing useful information to our technical writers so they can write the Help for a project. Too often, I see examples where this never happened. So, when I see something that really does a banner job of addressing this, I like to point it out.

Likewise, the same goes for developing good user interfaces. You really want to design them in such a way so your average Joe user isn't required to have to resort to searching through a bunch of help files in order to obtain the information they're looking for.

I've mentioned this a couple of times thus far, but the overall PowerDesk user interface design is exceptional. It's easy to use and provides the variety of options in a manner that's a piece of cake to understand. In fact, when you take a look at all the possible options that the Parhelia provides the user, it's very easy to see that a poorly written UI could give a user nightmares. This isn't the case at all.

The application also provides extremely useful information when simply doing a "mouse over" on a given UI element. In many cases, the information is detailed enough to not require you to have to refer to the Microsoft Help. How many times have you seen some obscure explanation for a feature found in the Advanced Display properties?

The part of the application that allows you to set game specific tweaks is a breath of fresh air as well. Sure, there have been 3rd party applications that allow you to perform similar functions, but this one comes as is directly from the manufacturers.

Likewise, when you have to resort to the Microsoft Help, Matrox's technical writers have done an outstanding job. Heck, the chapter that deals with setting up your connections is second to none. In total, the Help covers every single major category found in the PowerDesk, and the corresponding information is actually meaningful to both the novice, as well as advanced user.

Next Page: Conclusion


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Last Updated on November 16, 2002

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