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Pearl Echo Suite is a web content filtering software package that installs as client-server architecture. It has the additional ability to function in a peer-to-peer or server-centric environment as well.

We chose to implement the client-server architecture, and we were pleased with the product's intuitive installation. The installation, both for the server and the desktop clients, is guided by easy-to-follow wizards and is fairly straightforward.

We liked the fact that the client agent can be installed without the need to touch each client computer. The management software is equally functional and intuitive.

The administrator sets up the filtering policies by creating profiles using the management console. Profile settings are easy and the product has a starter blacklist. Administrators can add sites to the black lists and the list can be updated.

Logging of all users in near real time can be displayed in the log window. This allows administrators to monitor users without interfering with their work.

We found that Pearl Software's Echo Suite performed well. It offers URL filters, application filters, instant messaging filters and email filters.

The documentation consists of a quick-start guide and a user manual. Screen shots and clear descriptions mean the material provides excellent guidance for users at just about any level.

The developer's website includes a support area, where documentation, frequently asked questions, a knowledge base and email contact make support for this product solid. During the 30-day start-up period, phone support is free. After this time, there is a charge.

At around £16 ($40) per user, this solution offers solid value for smaller organisations, but for larger businesses, the price is at the high end of the range for this type of product.

Overall, we liked the Pearl Echo Suite software, but felt that it was a bit pricey in large environments. While we found its flexibility very good, we also found that it lacked some of the extra features that characterise many other products of the genre.

That's what we think. Pleasingly, Pearl software offers a fully-functioning trial version of its Echo Suite for those who want to find out for themselves.

For: Easy to install and deploy, filters simple to configure and unistalling of the client requires a password
Against: Can be pricey for large implementations, lacks extra features
Verdict: A solid product, and suitable for organisations of most sizes but cost is at the higher end for large deployments.

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