Dr. Web Antivirus
ESET Smart Security
MS Live OneCare
ZoneAlarm Security Suite
The installation process gives you the option of simply accepting all the program's defaults or allowing some degree of expert option-setting (which always can be done later, too). I chose to use the "simple" setting at first, just to see how well the program behaved. The only real decision I had to make was whether to allow file sharing for my computer in my local network, something the program advertised as being best for wireless connections.
The program's protection consists of a real-time file-system and Internet monitor, scans for Microsoft Office documents and Outlook e-mail, and a number of peripheral threat-detection technologies (the "ThreatSense Scanning Engine"). ESET only announces its presence when there's something newsworthy, like the interception of a virus in a user download. Most of the time it runs silently; by default, the virus signature database updates itself quietly in the background without user prompting. The program's tray icon can pop up a notification balloon to tell you that a new set of definitions or program updates have been applied. Scans initiated from a right-click context menu can be run in the foreground or sent to the system tray to run silently in the background.
$59.99 for 1 PC/year
If you're not using Outlook, NOD32 also can scan whatever port is used for POP3 traffic (110 by default; it's editable). You also can set the level of modification made to inbound e-mail depending on what your e-mail client can handle. The default setting is maximum efficiency, so only people using an older e-mail client (older than three years, say) might need to tinker with this setting.
Anything downloaded from the Web is automatically scanned. An advanced user also can configure ESET to scan traffic from different Web clients using one of two modes: passive, for higher compatibility; or active, for more effective filtering. I tried both modes and noticed little, if any, difference in speed or behavior. Finally, you can whitelist or blacklist HTTP addresses (i.e., pre-emptively designate given sites as "good" or "bad"), and ESET lets you feed in a plain text file to define those lists rather than just punch them in by hand.
The firewall's default protections are entirely automatic. I didn't have to touch much of anything to do my usual Web browsing or to work with applications that needed the network. Aside from automatic mode, the firewall also can work in interactive mode, where program behaviors that aren't already covered by existing rules can have rules generated for them based on user feedback, or policy-based mode, where behaviors not covered by a predefined rule are automatically blocked. You also can define network zones, where anything in a given zone (such as your LAN) is handled with an assumed level of trust.
If you've already used the NOD32 products before, ESET Smart Security makes for a good step up to something more comprehensive. And if you haven't used ESET's products before, you're liable to be impressed: the whole suite runs with the same quiet efficiency that NOD32 itself did.