Google Spreadsheets may not be the most dynamic product the big G's ever launched but we found this free web-based spreadsheet tool did a surprisingly good job as a basic number cruncher. The service is still at an experimental stage, however, so don't expect everything to be perfect.

Google Docs, previously known as Google Docs and Spreadsheets, now adds presentation functionality. Click here for PC Advisor's full review.

And there aren't any high-end spreadsheet features, such as PivotTables or charting. Indeed, apart from sorting, you can't do much with text. However, the interface, functions support, collaboration features and all-round performance are all as strong as you'd expect in a Google product.

Your files are automatically saved to Google's server every time you make a change. While we experienced no serious lag, it means you can't make a series of changes and then save the file in a particular state. Nor do you get any file encryption, though you can share with other Gmail users.

Conversion from native Office formats was fairly smooth, although we did notice some awry formatting.

The interface is clean and simple – and its plain English format makes it easier to understand than the majority of spreadsheet applications.

The sorting feature is serviceable, if inflexible. Formulas are supported, although they could do with more online help. Printing is slightly fiddly and requires you to create an HTML rendition of your work.

Google Spreadsheets: Specs

  • Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon XP processor
  • Microsoft Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • Internet connection (broadband preferred)
  • Internet Explorer 6.0 or FireFox 1.07
  • Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon XP processor
  • Microsoft Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • Internet connection (broadband preferred)
  • Internet Explorer 6.0 or FireFox 1.07

OUR VERDICT

Google Spreadsheets is not an Excel killer – but no one expected it to be. Financial analysts and chart users will want to stick with more expensive versions. However, for simple maths or managing short lists, it's a perfectly fine, easy-to-use tool that incorporates a straightforward design, user-friendly menus and strong collaboration features.

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