Pearl Software's Echo 6 works in a slightly different way to the other products on test. Rather than blocking web traffic at the gateway, Echo uses a client/server approach. The server dictates the policy, while clients installed on each PC control internet access locally. While the server is very quick and easy to install, there's quite a lot of leg work involved in distributing the client to all of your network's computers.
Policy control on the server is different to the other products on test as well. First, it doesn't have a categorized URL database. Instead, you have to create the list of allowed or denied websites. Pearl Software supplies a starter list once you have registered the product but it pales in comparison to every other product on test.
It does not help that the management is not very intuitive. The interface looks like it is a good few years out of date and is hard to navigate. It also does not feel as flexible as the other packages.
While it integrates with Windows Domain users, so you can create individual profiles based on username or group, the controls feel a little simplistic. For example, you cannot as easily choose different websites to block for each user or group; the software is geared to work on global lists, which are difficult to configure.
There is also support for keyword filtering and website ratings, but these rely on the fact that website developers will rate their site correctly.
Unsurprisingly, the default settings did not block any of our test websites. However, adding them manually and entering some test keywords soon had them and our HTTP-Tunnel software blocked.
In Echo's favor is support for email, web chats and FTP traffic. These can all be filtered by the same criteria as websites. In these cases the keyword filtering is more useful. Pearl also supplies an introductory filter for download.
As filtering is client-based, it means the server doesn't have to do as much work. The reporting is also first-rate, as each client collects information on the fly before sending results to the server.
However, the complex use, manual approach to web filtering and dated look all detract from what could be an extensive web security suite.