Top Holiday Software Gift Pick: McAfee All Access, for PC, Mac and Mobile Security

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Each holiday season, editors at NotebookReview.com and the five other sites in the TechTarget/TechnologyGuide family suggest holiday gift picks in various product categories. This year’s nod for top gift in the software category goes to McAfee All Access — arguably the most comprehensive entry in an emerging breed of cross-device security products for guarding Windows PCs, Macs and mobile devices from harm.

Each holiday season, editors at NotebookReview.com and the five other sites in the TechTarget/TechnologyGuide family suggest holiday gift picks in various product categories. This year’s nod for top gift in the software category goes to McAfee All Access — arguably the most comprehensive entry in an emerging breed of cross-device security products for guarding Windows PCs, Macs and mobile devices from harm.

Almost 171 million Intenet-connected devices — including PCs, tablets, and smartphones — were sold in 2010 within the US alone, and this number will soar higher in 2011, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). “Today the average owning household owns 3.02 computing devices when smartphones and tablets are included. Tablets and smartphones are experiencing significant momentum precisely because consumer-oriented computing services make them relevant,” says Shawn DuBravac, the CEA’s chief economist, in a new analyst report.

Analysts at Forrester put the number of PCs and other devices in the average computer-owning household even higher, at four PCs and/or other devices per household.

Security vendors (and others) hop aboard the cross-device software bandwagon

Vendors across many categories are recognizing this trend by starting to produce cross-device software products and services. Adobe, for example, just released the Apple iOS version of Carousel, a new online photo editing, storage and sharing offering set for availability for Microsoft Windows PCs and Android devices early next year.

Security software vendors are also early pioneers in the cross-device space. Industry leaders like McAfee, Symantec, and Kaspersky have long produced antivirus software — along with more feature-packed full security suites — for Windows notebook and desktop PCs.

After the onslaught earlier this year of a barrage of malware targeting Android devices, big name security software companies joined smaller mobile software specialists such as Lookout in providing anti-malware products specifically for smartphones and/or tablets.

Yet McAfee All Access and other products in the new category of cross-device security suites go much farther to provide wide ranging protection not just for one particular type of device, but across multi-OS PCs and mobile gadgets.

In October, McAfee beat the competing Kaspersky One out the door with McAfee All Access. By now, both of these cross-device security suites have been released. Symantec is also planning an offering in the space called Norton One. At this writing, though, only one element in the Norton One suite — Norton Anti-Theft, an innovative app for Windows PCs and Android devices — is available for purchase.

Folding in existing products such as McAfee Total Protection and McAfee Mobile Security, the new McAfee All Access offers all-in-one protection across Windows PCs, Macs, and Android, BlackBerry OS, and Symbian mobile devices. Specifics vary according to device, however. Smartphones and tablets get location tracking and remote data wipe services, along with the anti-malware and “family protection” capabilities on the Windows PC and Mac sides.

Windows PCs get some of the most robust protections of all, with extra features that include a two-way firewall and a data shredder, in addition to sophisticated anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, and anti-phishing tools.

Macs receive protections that include anti-malware safeguards, a firewall, and Web site ratings for helping to decide which Web sites are ones you want to avoid.

McAfee All Access: A useful, relatively affordable gift for a family or friend

Particularly at a time when many holiday spending budgets are strained by the accumulating impacts of the recession, McAfee All Access makes all kinds of sense as a highly useful gift for either the entire family or a plugged-in friend or significant other.

Although iPad and iPhone support isn’t present yet, the product will help to maintain the functionality of just about all of the other PCs, tablets, and smartphones your family or friend has already invested in before.

Subscription pricing of $99.99 for McAfee All Access provides protection for unlimited numbers of PCs and other devices owned by an individual user. A $149.99 family package, on the other hand, protects up to five PCs and other devices.

Kaspersky One is another product you might consider as an alternative, depending on the needs of the person (or family) on your shopping list. The pricing model for Kaspersky One is different, amounting to one-year subscription pricing of $79.95 for three devices, $99.95 for five devices, and $149.95 for ten devices.

Kaspersky One offers protections across the same PC and device platforms as McAfee All Access, while adding Windows Mobile smartphones to the mix. Features are in the same general neighborhood as those of McAfee All Access. Unlike McAfee All Access, however, Kaspersky’s product doesn’t include a two-way firewall or a data shredder for Windows PCs.

By the time the 2012 holiday season rolls around, there should be more cross-device security suites available to buy. Meanwhile, those already on the market are likely to have introduced new capabilities, and maybe increased device support. Yet with new security threats cropping up all the time, why wait another year?

Back to NotebookReview Holiday Buyer’s Guide

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