free

Too basic tunes

Eufony Free Audio Player provides a simple device for listening to MP3s. While it sounds fine and functions well, we were unimpressed with this program's unoriginal layout and features.

We had a bad feeling about this program from the beginning as its interface looks more like a file-tree window than a media player. It's not difficult to operate, it's just that we expect more from a player than it delivers. We were able to scroll through our digital music collection via the program's onscreen file tree and cherry-pick songs or select entire albums to play. The … Read more

Diner divvy

There are much more visually appealing tip calculators on the market for BlackBerry, but do you really need slick graphics to execute basic computations? Save your money and let this free app control the helm of your dining charges. Nine lines of text comprise FreeTips. Your job is to enter the total bill, number of diners, either tax rate or tax amount, and the percentage you'd like to tip (FreeTips will remember your preferred tax and tips rates between sessions). The app works out the rest: the total bill with the tip included, the total tip, amount each diner … Read more

Powerpoint converter

AuthorPoint Lite converts PowerPoint presentation files to SWF (Flash) files that are then uploaded to AuthorPoint Lite's Web site. Once your presentation is on the Web site, you can link to the provided URL, or you can share it via Twitter and other forms of social media. You can also embed your presentation into a separate Web page.

AuthorPoint Lite is clean and attractively designed. It immediately prompts you to upload a PowerPoint file. The presentation we chose contained many photographs, but AuthorPoint Lite handled it with ease. Once our file was finished, the next step was to upload … Read more

Diagnose disk clutter

Managing hard disk clutter mostly means figuring out which files eat up all the space. Utilities like SizeExplorer Free help by pinpointing the folders and files holding you back from downloading season three of "West Wing." It's an easy-to-use disk analyzer with some valuable features.

The interface is pleasant and mostly intuitive, and there's a Help file if needed. SizeExplorer is fast: it ran through more than 170,000 files in around two minutes. The resulting Windows Explorer-like view lists each item's overall disk usage with colored bars and percentages. You can sort the list … Read more

Attractive Outlook-style calendar

Efficient Calendar Free is an attractive scheduling application that lets users to keep track of events, appointments, holidays, and more. If you're looking for a stand-alone calendar that's not integrated with your e-mail or other online activities, Efficient Calendar Free is a great option.

The program's interface is sleek and highly reminiscent of more recent versions of Microsoft Outlook. In fact, we'd be hard pressed to identify any ways that Efficient Calendar Free differs significantly from the calendar functions of Outlook, aside from the fact that it doesn't appear that this program can be used … Read more

In nod to media, Google News policy limited

As the journalism industry gathers once again to wring its hands about the future, Google has thrown it a bone with new limitations on its "First Click Free" policy for news stories shown on Google News.

Companies that operate subscription-based Web sites--such as The Wall Street Journal--don't want to expose the full text of their articles to Google. But despite what WSJ owner Rupert Murdoch says, most of them also want their articles and sites discoverable through Google and Google News. As a compromise, Google has allowed those publishers to participate in what it calls a … Read more

Fancy a free phone?

Service contracts may chain you to a wireless carrier for up to two years, but they also can save you some serious cash when you're buying a new cell phone. And since carriers love holding on to their customers, they're quick to offer free phones of all types. Some handsets will just make calls, but others will offer media players, cameras, Web browsers, and full keyboards for messaging.

If you're looking for a phone that won't put a dent in your wallet, CNET has pulled together a list of free phones from the major carriers. Prices … Read more

Firewall for all

Online Armor has a professional feel that is typical of freeware versions of advanced security tools, pared down to its firewall options. The installation is blazingly fast, taking less than 30 seconds from double-clicking on the installer to running the firewall. Once installed, Online Armor defaults to running its installation wizard, which it calls a Safety Check.

In addition to the firewall, which configures as much as possible during the start-up wizard so you're not bothered later, Online Armor comes with a keylogger guard, tamper protection, malicious script and worm protection, and limited autostart protection. The paid versions offer … Read more

Basic YouTube downloader

Free YouTube Download is an easy-to-use program that allows users to download YouTube videos and save them in a variety of formats. Although we've seen similar programs with more features, this program is a good choice for users who need a basic YouTube downloader.

The program's interface is somewhat sparse, but it's still pretty intuitive. Users simply go to YouTube, copy the URL of the video they want to download, and then paste it into Free YouTube Download. Users select the output folder and name, and then choose from among AVI, MP4, and FLV file formats, each … Read more

Make your passwords stick

Sticky Password creates a password storehouse for passwords throughout your system, although the program is somewhat more limited than that sounds. In addition to the generally strong password management feature, the keystone of the program, it offers a good selection of useful secondary features to bolster its value.

Sticky Password will import passwords from your browser, and ask you to create a master password for accessing them. That same master password can be used to restrict access to your computer, requiring the master pass before resuming from sleep or hibernation. It supports multiple accounts, fast access via the system tray … Read more