BullsEye Plus v3

Reviewed by: Howard Carson
Published by: Intelliseek, go to the web site
Requires: Windows 98/ME, Windows 2000 & NT 4.0 (SP6 or later); Pentium 300MHz or faster; Microsoft Internet Explorer v5.01 SP1 or later

MSRP: US$49.99 (download)

BullsEye Plus is a moderately intelligent Web search tool and search information manager aimed at semi-professionals, student researchers, teachers, online consumers and info packrats. It's simple enough to use and is designed to save time and effort for people who are searching for or researching specific information or gathering comprehensive news. BullsEye Plus incorporates SurfSaver, a browser add-on from ASKSAM Systems which lets you store web pages into searchable folders on your computer.

We installed and tested BullsEye Plus on a PIII/550MHz machine with 256MB RAM running Windows 2000 Professional and Internet Explorer 6. Installation was flawless and placed a BullsEye button on the Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer toolbars. BullsEye Plus uses IE or Netscape as its browser and search results are displayed in its integrated browser view, with Fwd, Back, Stop, and Refresh options. There are three viewing layouts to select from: a results list, results browser, and a split window with results list on top and a Web browser below. We also tried using BullsEye Plus in Netscape 6 on a PIII/650 running Windows ME but the results were somewhat unstable. Ditto for an AMD Athlon-based machine running Windows XP.

We did some comparison searches using BullsEye head-to-head with Google (via the IE6 Google Toolbar). A search for "Sex education under 16" (with the "Kid-Safe" flag set in BullsEye Plus) yielded 17 hits with no sex education information at all. The same search in Google yielded over 100 hits which refined down to 9 directly relevant sites. "Project management theories" yielded almost identical results in BullsEye and Google. "Buy a Cisco 1601R Router" yielded more comprehensive sources via BullsEye. "Game theory bush" yielded more numerous, varied and interesting hits in Google.

There are a few usability problems with BullsEye Plus. Task buttons in the management pane on the left side of its UI jump to the bottom of the pane whenever you select a different task. Intelliseek's design idea, I think, is to always keep the active task button immediately above the category list. It's visually distracting however. Simply highlighting the active task button would prevent things from dancing around and moving out of an easy-to-hit location. The ability to save successful searches is great, but it would be greater if you could organize the saved searches into categories.

There are some really useful features in BullsEye Plus. Foremost is the Report Generator which can be used to generate HTML reports, without ads and banners if you prefer, containing a search history for a particular session, hit/page summaries, local Web pages, related links, and the relevant search engines used. Nice - and a great addition to any research report to facilitate due diligence and fact checking. You can save reports to disk or send them via e-mail. The Analysis feature does a good job of purging dead and duplicate links from search results - very nice indeed. Multi-language searching opens up a huge, relatively untapped resource (at least untapped by most North American Internet users). It's a big world and Intelliseek seems to understand the value of looking beyond U.S. English sites and search engines. Also very nice.

Cons: Use IE 5 or later because BullsEye Plus v3 doesn't get along nicely with earlier browser versions. Netscape can be somewhat problematic. You're limited to 3 open searches at any one time, which is somewhat irritating because you constantly have to save or discard existing searches. The current UI looks like a hybrid of Outlook and something else I haven't quite figured out yet. There are several task and function buttons in BullsEye Plus which don't do anything except call a popup window telling you that you've clicked on something available only in BullsEye Pro and that an upgrade is only a few clicks away. This is annoying! So is the Persistent Highlighting feature which unfortunately highlights innumerable words unrelated to your searches. Intelliseek touts BullsEye Plus, variously, as a professional research tool and a research tool for students and teachers. It's not a professional tool and we'd like to see Intelliseek refine its product descriptions.

Pros: Major search engine access (800+ engines). There's a link in the Help menu which can be used to suggest new search engines to Intelliseek. The Analysis feature will save you lots of time which would otherwise be wasted chasing dead and/or duplicate links. One-stop 'shop' for basic organization and storage of research. The Report Generator will enhance most basic research reports and projects. We're not sure if BullsEye Plus is worth fifty bucks, but it works and provides basic level of organizational and reporting functions. For more serious, professional research, BullsEye Pro is a much better bet even though it's also much pricier (US$199).

(As of December 2004, the BullsEye features and functions have been fully absorbed into askSam Systems' askSam and SurfSaver products. Dedicated search tools like BullsEye have taken quite a beating in the wake of vastly powerful freeware such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN Search. If you're thinking about doing deep or otherwise very specific searches with Google or MSN, have a long look at Google's Advanced Search page and Advanced Search Tips. You'll find an even larger set of guides and tools for MSN Search).

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