When we first reviewed Norton Internet Security 2010 back in September, we praised its extensive feature set and its inoffensive footprint. Pitted against this month's rivals, it once more acquitted itself admirably.
For starters, with a malware detection rate of 98%, it shared first place. Moreover, its scanning component is complemented by three discrete technologies (Insight, Sonar and Quorum), which analyse the origin, behaviour and reputation of unknown files with a view to protecting your PC even from unknown threats.
We were also reassured to see the firewall completely cloak our test PC, so our attacking machine couldn't confirm its presence. And the package integrated neatly with Windows Mail, removing infected attachments and tagging spam.
Web protection is more of a grey area, but Norton warned us when test sites tried to install malware, and blocked a few others.
It allowed us to visit more than 50 sites that other suites had blacklisted, but none appeared dangerous. The Safe Surfing browser plugin shows details of sites' financial reputations and privacy policies.
If there's a downside to Norton it's the complexity that all these features inevitably bring. The front-end exposes no fewer than 32 controls, many of which open new windows.
And, on launching our browser, we were interrupted by Norton wanting to introduce Norton Safe Search, which helps you locate bona fide websites, and the Identity Safe, which can protect website login details from keyloggers and screen sniffers.
It isn't the lightest package, either. Its RAM footprint of 83MB and startup time of 14 seconds aren't too high, but others are far better. We also don't like the way it occasionally nags you to restart your PC after downloading an update.
Those seeking the simplest and most low-key security package should look elsewhere, and if you have only one PC the price may not make sense. Overall, though, Norton Internet Security 2010 simply crams in more effective stuff than any other package this month and that makes it a winner.