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The Be-All and Do-All of the Net

Forget directories. Yahoo! (YHOO) is a full-blown package of information and services. Here's how a sampling of services on Yahoo! stacks up against rivals, with ''rad'' as the highest rating, followed by ''cool,'' then ''so what,'' and finally ''lame.''

FINANCE
A superdeep set of offerings, including quotes, graphs, analysts' ratings, and company information--all easy to find. The breadth of news from Reuters (RTRSY), S&P (MHP), and AP sets it apart, although Microsoft's (MSFT) Investor and Excite (XCIT) also are first-rate. Yahoo! Finance isn't for high-roller investors but is great for little guys.

RATING: RAD

REAL ESTATE
A wide variety of tightly integrated information from real estate's RE/Max and online loan service E-Loan, as well as national classifieds on home sales and rentals. Although Excite offers easier-to-use graphics and Microsoft's HomeAdvisor is flashy, Yahoo! has nifty information on crime rates and quality of life.

RATING: COOL

HEALTH
To put it nicely, Yahoo! has a lot of work to do. The service provides health news from Reuters and medical site listings, but Excite, Infoseek (SEEK), and Lycos (LCOS) do a better job by offering news features, tips, and quizzes from iVillage and HomeArts. For great sites, check out Thrive, InteliHealth, and Mayo Health.

RATING: LAME

SEARCH
Yahoo! pioneered the field, using categories as a way to help guide you through searches. Now, Excite and Lycos help people wade through data better. Their solution? Asking whether the results are hot or cold, and then looking up data that are closer to the target. Excite also suggests first and last names to narrow searches.

RATING: COOL

NEWS
This is the place for news junkies. The vast selection of news sources--from AP to Hollywood Reporter--is awesome. Also offers a wide variety of topics, from technology to human interest. Still, it can be overwhelming--with news bits, short takes, and in-depth stories galore. Snap! and Excite don't give up a lot of ground, though.

RATING: RAD

PERSONALIZATION
My Yahoo! is extensive. It lets you pick your favorite topics--from stocks to weather--by creating a site customized to your tastes. True, Excite goes one better by having your preferences travel with you throughout that site. My Yahoo!, though, is really worth using if you plan to spend much time on the site.

RATING: COOL

TRAVEL
This smart setup offers hotel, car, and flight reservations. But the bookings automatically link to travel service Sabre, without giving alternatives such as bargain-finder Priceline. Infoseek and Lycos first link to Microsoft's Expedia and Preview Travel and connect to other sites.

RATING: SO WHAT

SHOPPING
If you thought shopping malls were dead on the Web, think again. Yahoo! has one, and it's doing its darnedest to lock you into its choice of stores, including Gap and CDnow. Snap! has easy-to-use listings and search to help sort through a wider selection. Yahoo! is still hep, offering an electronic shopping assistant.

RATING: COOL





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Updated Aug. 27, 1998 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1998, Bloomberg L.P.
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