Not everyone wants to use Microsoft Word, but everyone needs to be able to open and save Word documents because Word is the closest thing we have to a standard format.

The well-priced Mellel can do just that. This fantastic program has been developed in Israel by RedleX and is one of the most polished word processors for the Mac.

Not only does Mellel handle Word documents with aplomb, it is also brilliant at handling multilingual documents and will even mix text directions on the same page. Of course, it helps that the app was developed in a country that uses right-to-left script.

As well as offering a slick metal interface with an easy-touse toolbar, Mellel now has the option of an Aqua interface. Most of the settings and formatting controls can be changed using a floating palette that is fully customisable. All the usual controls for alignment, lists, tables and page numbering are included.

Intuitive and quick

Perhaps the best palette of all is the one for statistics, which includes a live word count and a selected word count. For those of us who are paid by the word, that's an absolute boon.

Another feature we really like is the ability to insert a date into a document without having it appear in the American wrong-way-round format that Microsoft Word always insists on offering. This is a nice touch that reflects the tool's international pedigree.

It really is hard to criticise Mellel. Even if it were priced at £80 it would be a bargain, but you can actually buy Mellel for a ridiculously low $39. It even comes with a British English dictionary. In fact, in our view, the only things missing are a thesaurus and a grammar checker. However, we wouldn't mind betting that RedleX has those bases covered in the next major upgrade, which should be Mellel 2.0. We can hardly wait. Mark Sparrow