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Macworld's Best Small-Business Apps

LightSpeed from Xsilva Systems, packages start at $275.

You know something must be cool if a product meant for a niche market like small retailers still makes this list. But that is exactly what Xsilva Systems has done with its new LightSpeed product. LightSpeed is an easy-to-use retail point-of-sale, inventory and business-management product that any technophobe small-business person can use.

What I like about this product was the elegant interface matched with powerful back-office functions. The software can control over-inventory. It interfaces well with existing bar-code and third-party business applications. It connects to online retailer and bidding and other financial modeling tools.

It's a remarkable value starting at less than $300. Retail-store owners tired of hard-to-use point-of-sale software should check out LightSpeed. It's a very nice package.

Pocket Informant from HTC Omni Software, $30.

One thing iPhone ain't so good at is calendaring. Yes, plenty of packages for the phone can deal with an appointment, but woe betide anybody who tries to change that appointment. Yes, it can be done. But syncing to desktop computers is inexact. Meeting changes don't get forwarded to all parties. And getting calendars to stay in the same state is a pain, at least in my experience.

HTC Omni has addressed this problem and done a nice job with its Pocket Informant mobile-productivity suite for the iPhone. The software company built a nice bit of code that fully syncs the standard calendar functions, task lists and other data between mobile devices and desktops.

The product appears to be a good, solid step for small businesses trying to stay organized. Pretty handy little app.

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