I must admit that my first impressions of Ancestral Quest 12.1 were rather negative. But, after looking extensively at the program and working through all of Incline Software's online tutorials, I a majorly impressed with the program. I would be glad to recommend it to anyone, and especially, to those who have access to New FamilySearch.
The program tutorials are excellent and easy to follow. With the information from the tutorials, I was able to obtain a more accurate view of how the program was supposed to work and why. Initially, I thought the the interface with New FamilySearch was somewhat cumbersome, but have completely changed my mind. It does take some effort to understand, but the implementation of the program is very solid and had a real relationship to how you will have to clean up your files with New FamilySearch.
One real benefit of the process of synchronization is the fact that you also regularize and clean up your own database. Although for some, the mass of information, accurate and inaccurate, in New FamilySearch can be overwhelming. Ancestral Quest 12.1 gives the user a consistent and rational interface allowing the user to stand back from the New FamilySearch data and actually get something accomplished.
My perception is that the search engine used in the program is more efficient than any of the other options. I found many more hits on possible duplicates in New FamilySearch than I had previously seen or found.
The program itself, apart from the synchronization with New FamilySearch, has a very familiar feel given Incline Software's roots in the development of Personal Ancestral File. Although there the comparison stops. The features of Ancestral Quest go way beyond those limited features in Personal Ancestral File.
Overall, this a program that bears serious consideration as a contender for your personal use. I am supposed to teach this program, beginning on Monday, March 2, 2009 at the Mesa (Arizona) Regional Family History Center and it is a good thing that I got way into the program before I began teaching, in more ways than one.