I tested eSignal 12 on my Windows 7 work PC. Straightforward information on system requirements and how to install were displayed. If you are at work, on a PC hiding behind a firewall, security restrictions allow only very restricted access. eSignal suggests that you check with your IT department that access is allowed, and if not, gives parameters to forward to your IT department so they can relax the firewall rules enough to let data through.

Installing the software package was a breeze, and so full of confidence was I that the message ‘Connection – None’ on my data-feed application caused an ego-bruising slap – what do you mean it didn’t work? Checking the documentation, I soon noticed what I should have done. It was less of an issue with the software, more of a user error; but something those considering using the package at work need to bear in mind. Thankfully the free 30-day trial gives you a good opportunity to sort this out.

Once it was up and running, I had only positive experiences with the package – no outages, fast updates, and smooth running – no long pauses waiting to respond to mouse clicks, no crashes and so on. The only strange thing I noted was that some menu buttons didn’t seem to have a pop-up description when you hover over them Creating studies and charts was easy. All the studies most traders would use are supported; there is also an option to programme your own formulae. (This is beyond me though – I clicked on it and immediately felt as though I’d walked around a corner onto Smith Street, Collingwood at 11:30 p.m. in the cold, windy rain – a little voice in my head said, “You shouldn’t be here.”). There is a back-testing function, which is always good to see.

Both ASX and SFE are available, along with Forex and a good number of the world’s major exchanges; historical and live data – and 60 days historical tick data or 120 days of historical minute data – are readily available. There is also a portfolio manager. Add-ons include a market scanner, market profile, and eSignal news, amongst others.

Phone support is offered only during US Pacific Time business hours, so day traders in Australia might find themselves in a spot of bother if they don’t have a backup system in place. However, email queries come back within 24 hours, and there are FAQ’s and tutorials on the website that should provide enough assistance for most users. Overall I enjoyed using this package. It’s easy to use, and it’s got everything you need.

Intermediate Level

The software is very easy to download – once you have logged on, the data takes only about 40 minutes to download (and that’s using a dial-up connection). I have experienced fantastic speed with the application and no problems whatsoever with the stability. As I currently receive live data feed from the ASX via Iress, I had a reliable live data source with which to compare eSignal. There is no question… the data is fast!

Not only does eSignal provide excellent tools in the form of Advanced GET but it also provides access to the basics: MACD, moving average, Bollinger Bands, Relative Strength Indicators, Directional Movement, Stochastic, Volume and so on. In addition, eSignal has the ability to take a snapshot image of the chart that has been created. It will not only save it to file share, which lets you share your studies and see the studies of eSignal users and other traders all over the world, but also send it to a chat site or to an FTP site. Free training and free resources are readily downloadable from the main website under the ‘Education’ heading. e-Signal’s Education Partners provide access to a large range of courses to improve your trading.

After-sales service and support is very good. There is a dedicated LiveRep support line in operation from Monday to Friday, between 5:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time. They also offer the option of sending an email for online help and a portion of the eSignal website is dedicated to frequently asked questions.

Not many systems can boast real-time data as fast as this – especially over a dial-up connection. But that’s not where it ends; eSignal now has the new QuoTrek, which delivers global, real-time quotes, charts and news to a software application that users can download to their wireless, Internet-ready PDAs, such as Palm, Pocket PC and BlackBerry. You can also programme the software to send you alerts via phone, desktop and email.

Experienced Level

eSignal (DBC) has been around for over a decade and is a good example of a web-based charting/trading platform. The trick with these platforms is to find one that suits your own style of interaction with a charting/trading platform. So make good use of the free trial periods before signing up. Web-based charting/trading platforms are now so sophisticated that they can replace daily data downloads and stand alone charting software.

The eSignal (ver 12) tested supports US, European and Australian shares, US futures, and Forex. The end-user telephone support is based on US daylight hours. Thus support is primarily via email (usually 24-hour turn around!) or the eSignal central website, which contains a skimpy FAQ database along with many user forums, some tutorials and the E-university.

The eSignal interface is the usual clutter of small icons with no mouse-over description bubbles. The interface can be customised to some extent by turning off many of the festooned toolbars. The online help is rudimentary and brief. The “?” Help icon (show me) is the most useful way to access help on an icon or topic. Chart printing is simple and effective. The share scanner contains six predefined scan types, all with internal parameters to adjust the scans. Share data can be exported to a CSV file. The usual paraphernalia of news and dubious research is available to befuddle the novice trader. The data feed from eSignal is real-time.

The three aspects of eSignal that stood out were the studies, line tools and the broker/paper-trade interface. Technical indicators available are excellent and include the Advanced GET suite, Bollinger Bands and Mesa suites. The formula section includes a large range of predefined indicators and a formula editor/creator. The formula language is very C++ like, so programming skills are required.

The line tools, especially the Fibonacci retracements, extensions and time lines, are elegant and easy to use – very nice indeed. The broker interface is good, providing the user with three choices of trade execution (eSignal as your broker, a range of third-party brokers with eSignal plug-ins, or your own broker’s screen in a separate browser window) and an excellent paper trading facility. eSignal is a no-frills, simple and effective web-based charting/trading platform.

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