Antivirus protection usually finds itself in an odd quandary - staying too silent means you forget it's there (especially when renewal time rolls round), but being too up-front means you're likely to switch the thing off rather than put up with it.
One of PC Tools Spyware Doctor with Antivirus 2012's best features is a slider that determines how much you want it to keep you in the loop.
On Minimum, only known threats are flagged up. On Maximum, any suspicious activity earns a flag. It seems simple, but it's something that all antivirus tools should offer. Beyond that, this is a very standard offering.
Scanning speeds are reasonable, although far from the fastest, and the software offers the usual range of features: a browser guard to check for dodgy sites (with a focus on online scams), rootkit protection, real-time scanning in addition to the potentially very lengthy full system scans, and cloud-based checks on any files downloaded.
One friendly extra is the Report Card, which gives you an itemised breakdown of how many infections PC Tools has caught - which would, as ever, benefit from not counting tracking cookies along with genuine infections in the name of scoring positive hits - and a personalised threat rating.
No software firewall is included in this version, although you can upgrade to the higher-level Internet Security tool if you want one. That edition also adds anti-spam protection, if you're using a traditional client such as Outlook instead of webmail.
Regular email virus scanning for both incoming and outgoing messages is provided in the base version though, and is switched on by default. This version costs £40 in the UK and $39.99 in the US, covering three PCs for one year.
While unexceptional, this is a solid package, and one that can be installed and left to its own devices on up to three PCs simultaneously. The emphasis on spyware in the product's title is an interesting choice, but in some ways quite a shrewd one: as spyware is increasingly catching up with traditional viruses to be the number one threat to PC users, so PC Tool's focus on the spyware side is rather reassuring.
Overall, PC Tools Spyware Doctor with Antivirus gives you a good set of tools to protect your computer against viruses. It's easy to use, and the Report Card is an excellent user-friendly addition that can help to give you a much better understanding of the state of your PC's protection - something that could mean the difference between a healthy PC and one riddled with viruses.
The ability to configure its feedback according to your own paranoia is a handy one as well, and worth taking a look at if you've had trouble finding the right balance before.