The first thing users of this freeware WordPad/Notepad replacement will notice is the unusual interface. Jarte actually uses a simple layout, with a default brushed-metal skin and mouse-over icons that reveal standard Menu bar drop-down menus, but this isn't your basic 1990s user interface. Just the mere fact of having something different to look at is appealing, and generally, it works well. The icons are a bit small, and there's a fair bit of empty space around them so they look somewhat bereft of context.

It turns out Jarte has two other interface schemes. One is an expanded "classic" layout, while the other is a minimalist and familiar Menubar. Behind these different approaches lies many familiar writing and note-taking tools bolstered by small tweaks that make Jarte's appeal obvious. A mouse-over chart icon gives you word, character, page, and line counts. Table, special character, and equation support make Jarte a good, lightweight editor, but the built-in scalable screen-capping utility push it toward greatness. The included spell-checker was adequate, but not great, although the clipboard can hold 25 items at once. DOC, RTF, and TXT formats are supported, and there's an Export tool that converts documents into PDFs and HTML. Like other Notepad replacements, Jarte offers tabs for keeping multiple files open at once.

The stability issues and function failures of previous versions were nonexistent in our latest test of Jarte. The clickless, mouse-over-based navigation may sound a bit intimidating, but it makes getting around in the application noticeably fast. If you're in the market for a Notepad or WordPad alternative, Jarte's mix of style and utility is about as different from the mainstream as you can get.