Panda continually reinvents itself. This year it got it right. Not only does the Internet Security suite look better, but it runs better, too, as evidenced by results from CNET Labs and third-party testing. The new interface is clearly a nod to Symantec Norton 360. Panda steps up the comparison by offering a similar online storage package (1GB for one year) to that offered by Symantec. But Panda can't match Symantec's customer service, nor that of its other competitors, leaving users to depend on online knowledgebase articles and e-mail support. For a fast, effective online security suite at a good price, we recommend either Norton or McAfee this year.
Setup and interface
Panda Internet Security 2009 remains one of the most expensive security products on the market, although street prices can be lower. Still, you can get similar suites from Symantec or McAfee for about $20 less. Like Norton, Panda Internet Security 2009 runs on Windows XP and Vista only.
As mentioned, the new interface looks a lot like Norton 360, with settings in the upper right and columns populated with related content front and center. The first column, Protection, contains antivirus, firewall, identity protection, vulnerabilities, an antispam filter, and Web content control. The middle column, Maintenance, includes the backup and recovery feature. A third column, Updates, includes the automatic update data. There is plenty of open space in the new design for Panda to offer additional features in the future.
However, clicking on any feature not only gives you detailed configuration setting, but also a second left-hand navigation panel for the other topics. This seems redundant; as though Panda couldn't decide which navigation system would work best.
Should you decide to remove Panda Internet Security 2009, there is an uninstall feature. Upon reboot we found no traces left on our test machine.
In addition to providing antivirus, antispam, and a personal firewall, Panda Internet Security 2009 includes Identity protection and Safe Surfing control. And Panda Internet Security matches the look and feel of Norton 360, right down to including a free online backup service.
Web content control is Panda's cleverly reworded Parental Controls with preset filters for Office, teenagers, and kids; you can create your own. The section is password protected by the system administrator and must be installed separately.
As with Eset Smart Security, we liked the granularity of the Panda personal firewall, giving users the ability to monitor specific services as they access the Web.