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Microsoft Encarta 2000

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      25.05.2003 21:26
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      The Microsoft Encarta reference works are among the most popular and widely used packages of their kind - this review is about the 2000 version DVD-ROM (2002 version has since been released). Capable of holding the same information as six CDs could, this disc contains a multimedia display of dictionary, encyclopaedia and world atlas, all with the impressive sound, graphics, videos and content that you would expect from such a product - of course though, it is only of use to those of us who are smug enough to have a PC with a DVD drive built in! The first question is of course, why did I choose to buy this reference pack over the others available on the market? Well, about three years ago, I happened to be idly surfing when I came across Tiny computers' auction site, imaginatively named Tinyauctions (www.tinyauctions.co.uk - unfortunately since gone bust along with the rest of the company). There was an announcement on the site from Tiny, stating that they had a surplus of 100 copies of Encarta 2000 DVD, and were having an auction to sell them off - having nothing better to do, I put a bid in and then went away and forgot all about it. A few days later I got an e-mail from tinyauctions, stated that I had placed one of the winning bids and that therefore I could have a copy of this disc for £3.50, including p&p. Quite a surprise I must say, considering that Encarta costs around £100 in the shops! :-) ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Installation This was actually very simple to do, even for a non-techie like me! The instructions were very clear - all you have to do is close any open programmes on your computer, insert the disc and follow the prompts that come up on screen. To be able to install Encarta 2000, your PC needs the following specs: 1) Pentium processor, 120 or higher 2) Windows 95/98/NT Workstation 3) At least 32 MB RAM 4) 135 MB hard drive space 5) 256 colour
      or higher monitor with 640 X 480 or higher resolution 6) DVD drive ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Encarta Dictionary The dictionary section of Encarta 2000 contains a World English dictionary, a copy of Roget's thesaurus, a dictionary of quotations, an English-French and French-English translator, and an English-German and German-English translator. They contain the following features: World English Dictionary - Each dictionary entry (or article) contains a headword, which may be a phrase; most entries also have an audio pronunciation and a written pronunciation guide. Many articles contain quick or full definitions, or references to further information in other entries, as well as examples of word use, definitions and sometimes also the origin of the word. Any associated multimedia files (photos, audio clips, videos, etc) are highlighted. The type and layout is easy to follow and understand, and an effort has been made to stay clear of confusing jargon. Thesaurus - Roget's Thesaurus is a collection of words and phrases classified according to their underlying concepts and meanings, a classification system that was invented by Peter Mark Roget and which has been improved upon and expanded by successive editors. The thesaurus is divided into six classes: abstract relations (ideas such as number, order and time); space (movement, shapes and sizes); matter (the physical world and our perception of it); intellect (the human mind); volition (the human will), and emotion, religion and morality (the human heart and soul). Essentially though, this system allows you to look up the synonyms of thousands of English words, and does work well. I personally don't use this feature much, although this is a reflection of the fact that I prefer the Collins-style thesaurus over the Roget one, rather than a failing of Encarta. Quotations - A dictionary of quotes, contai
      ning over 18,000 references, covering the fields of history, politics, literature, religion, science and popular culture. Highly comprehensive and up to date (around half the quotes are from the past 100 years), it even has a feature for you to contact the Encarta people with your suggestions to expand the book for future editions. French and German translators - Basically, editions of Harrap French and German dictionaries, complete with verb tables. I have never had cause to use this function, but it does look pretty impressive, and would surely be of use to anyone learning either language. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Encarta Interactive World Atlas The world atlas in Encarta is every bit as comprehensive as the dictionary, and contains an impressive array of features within it. If I covered every single available function of the atlas, then I would never finish this opinion, but I have covered all of the main aspects here. How I wish I had had this when I was doing A-level geography though! Find - The search function allows you to look for what you want in one of two ways, either by typing in the name of the city or country (which will bring up a list of related articles), or by using the virtual globe. To search the globe, you use the cursor to spin it in any direction until you find the region you want, then using the click and drag function, you highlight the region; left clicking inside the box will take you to a political map of the area, showing names of countries and major cities. You can then zoom in further if desired, again by clicking and dragging to outline your chosen area. Maps can by found up to street level (for major world cities), and may be printed out or copied over to Word. Country List - A list of all the countries in the world, their national flag and access to an article on each of them. The article covers basic facts, people, economy, society,
      culture, infrastructure, land and climate, a list of images relating to the country and an option to visit a selection of web sites chosen by the Encarta editors. Dynamic map - Again using the virtual globe, the dynamic map feature allows you to select different map styles for the region or country of your choice. You can choose from physical, political, tectonic, temperature, precipitation, languages, religion, population density, time zones, statistical or eco regions. You can also bring up articles and images related to the area, and view the map legend. Multimedia features - Here, you can takes a geography quiz, learn about geography in depth, use the "world compare" function (to compare the statistics on any two world countries), visit the map gallery or take a virtual flight over any part of the world. Personally, I think that the virtual flight function is just an opportunity that Microsoft have taken to show off what they are capable of, rather than an educational tool in itself, but it is so much fun to play around with, that I just don't care! Custom Maps - This tool is amazing addition to Encarta 2000, enabling you to construct a map showing exactly what you want, then to annotate it with "pushpins". I used this feature to construct maps for both of my dissertations, and it looked very professional when complete. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Encarta Encyclopaedia The third part of the Encarta package is the vast encyclopaedia - when compared to the older versions of Encarta (I also have a copy of the 96 edition), it is easy to see just what advances have been made. There are many thousands of articles here, each written in depth, easy to understand without being overly simplistic, and backed up by guest essays, related articles and multimedia features. The search function is easy to use, and large topics are subdivided to make it
      easier to read and find what you want. The encyclopaedia has the following: Topic Trails - Some highlighted articles for you to browse through, arranged in subjects such as millennium, art & literature, places to visit, mystery & imagination and living world. Timeline - A rather simplistic overview of human (pre)history, with pictorial links to related articles. I apologise for appearing so cynical about this, it is probably perfectly useful to a schoolchild, but I really don't like this feature! Virtual Tours - One of my favourite features, easily as much fun as the virtual flights in the world atlas. You can choose a virtual tour from one of five categories (cities, natural wonders, ancient sites, landmarks and fieldtrips), and enjoy images, narrative and amazing 360-degree panoramas of key locations. You have complete control of the tour, and the quality of the images is outstanding. Interactivities - Interactive educational resources on science, the living world, humanities, world facts, historical maps and calculation. Mindmaze - A rather strange puzzle game, based on giving points for answering questions within a given space of time. I have never exactly worked out the point of the game, but interesting enough if you have a spare half hour on your hands. Yearbook - Updates to Encarta from the website, to keep the articles up to date. Web links - As the name suggests, links to sites chosen by the Encarta editors. Research Organizer - A useful tool designed to help you choose, plan and research reports and essays. It teaches you how to organize your research effectively, develop an outline for your work, create citations and a bibliography, and arrange your research to produce an effective report. Probably best aimed at those doing GCSE or A-level work, as a good introduction into effective studying techniques. --------------------------------------------------------------
      --------- Overal l As you can no doubt see by now, Encarta 2000 DVD is certainly comprehensive! This package is easily the best of any reference suite that I have seen or used, and an invaluable tool to students at all levels. However, I do think that a retail price of £100 is expensive, even for this sort of quality, and I would recommend looking around for special offers, auctions or trying to get it in a new PC package instead. With the arrival of Encarta 2002, this version can probably be picked up for a lot cheaper than its original selling price these days, though. One last comment - it is great proof that having a DVD drive in your PC is educational after all! :-)

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        28.10.2001 03:43

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        Encarta is a useful encyclopaedia that contains thousands of pages of information on all different subjects. I believe all home computers should have Encarta or a similar encyclopaedia as they?re just so useful for finding out bits of information. Plus they?re a must have for homework or essays, making the work just so much easier. I have several encyclopaedias, Encarta probably being the most useful with general subjects, but it doesn?t seem to have as much information as some of the others, such as world book, on the more less known matters. If you?re thinking of buying Encarta I also suggest you buy the cheaper addition for home use, as I don?t think it?s worth spending more money on the deluxe addition which contain extra resources and information. Really the simpler addition should cover everything you need.

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        11.03.2001 05:25
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        Microsoft Encarta 2001 is brilliant. It is packed full of relevant and helpful information (just like an encyclopedia should be I guess!). In the past I used to have Encarta 95 (I think it was 95 - not sure, cant remember), ive also had Hutchinson's Encyclopedia. I much prefered the Encarta one to the Hutchinson one. Now please dont ask me why this is, because if I was to be honest I wouldnt really have an answer. I dont know what it was really, you know how it is when you automatically without thinking, just know you prefer one over the other....well it was one of them situations!! I generally just prefered the layout of Encarta, and also the information it told you. The general information Encarta 95 gave you was excellent - so you can imagine how good 2001 is! On the 2001 edition there is an option whereby you can not only search for relevant words/strings of words. You can in addition specify whether you want 360' shots, images, sounds, video's....etc! In addition to the encyclopedia CD ROM you also get a "World Atlas" (which is pretty self explanitory!) (id install this too - like I didnt think I would, no need for it really, but its good!) You also get some kind of dictionary, cant comment on that though, because ive not installed that!! Im not sure whether you get the dictionary and world atlas ones with the cheaper packages, but the one we got was the "Deluxe Suite" Definately worth every penny though! It still comes in handy for my homework and researching topics (doing 3 science A-levels) so its VERY useful!

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        27.01.2001 17:42
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        Last year's Encarta was a brilliant update from the 2000 version, so I wasn't expecting this one to be any different when I checked it out at my friend's house. The browser-style interface hasn't changed that much and there is simply just a massive chunk of data and information stored on CD-Roms. Of course, there are thousands of educational products out there nowadays, and you could end up spending a hell of a lot of money by buying things like an altas, dictionary e.t.c. Why do that when you can buy them all in one package? There is only one disc in this version and there are a few new features. At £100 however, if you don't have access to the Internet, this is a must! If you do have access, then give this a product a miss as you can access all of this if not more, online.....

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          01.12.2000 19:16
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          This Encyclopedia from Microsoft is an excellent one. It contains lots of information and is also easy to use. All you do is type in a word or string of words you want the article to be related to and hit search eg. If you wanted to find about monkeys in the jungle you just type in 'monkeys' and 'jungle'. Other features include maps, atlas', pictures, timelines and charts, which are all related to the articles. The software comes in the form of two CDs, with Disc 1 ontaining all of the articles and information and Disk 2 neccasary for viewing pictures and the other features. The software comes free with any PC you purchase, although it can be obtained seperately for as little as £4.99. I think this software is excellent, as it has helped me out on many an occassion, such as when I have needed to do research and find illustrations of certain things. An excellent piece of software!

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          18.11.2000 18:26
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          This Encyclopedia from Microsoft is an excellent one. It contains lots of information and is also easy to use. All you do is type in a word or string of words you want the article to be related to and hit search eg. If you wanted to find about monkeys in the jungle you just type in 'monkeys' and 'jungle'. Other features include maps, atlas', pictures, timelines and charts, which are all related to the articles. The software comes in the form of two CDs, with Disc 1 ontaining all of the articles and information and Disk 2 neccasary for viewing pictures and the other features. The software comes free with any PC you purchase, although it can be obtained seperately for as little as £4.99. I think this software is excellent, as it has helped me out on many an occassion, such as when I have needed to do research and find illustrations of certain things. An excellent piece of software!

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          07.11.2000 19:48

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          Microsoft Encarta 2000 standard is the main reference tool used by all schools and homes. To search for things is easy and there are fun media features. You can hear music and other languages. You can get 360° view of different famous places around the world. Once you have searched for something you can search on the Internet simply by clicking on a link. Encarta comes on a CD-ROM and the System requirements are Pentium or higher, 24Mb and 50Gb. This means that most PC’s can use it. This program is a useful piece of refrence software which if you are in high school will be a great help to your studys. I have found that the science section is very useful. Most subjects are covered although some do not have enough detail. The are some amusing video clips and some of the sounds are interesting.

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          13.09.2000 03:04
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          People criticise Microsoft a lot, but the primary reason for the success is that generally the software they make is of a very high standard – Encarta DVD Reference Suite 2000 is no exception. The primary advantage of DVD is of course the fact that it eliminates the need for disc swapping which really limits the usefulness of the CD version. The fact that all the programs are on one disc also ensures that they are well integrated. Taking the individual programs one by one: *ENCARTA DICTIONARY There are three main sections to the dictionary. The first is what you would expect – you type in a word and you get a definition. These are all comprehensive, often with notes on usage and many definitions have the useful feature of a button you can click to hear the word pronounced. The second is a thesaurus, which pretty much explains itself. The third is a quotations section which makes it extremely easy to find a suitable quotation for any occasion, as well as just being fun to browse through. There are also two additional sections: English to French and English to German translation (both work either way). These are nice to have, but it would obviously be better if a few more languages were added. Although I have described the dictionary as being divided up into sections, these all work together seamlessly, so if you type in a word you will get a definition, synonyms, quotes and translations (although you can of course use filters to look for something specific). Probably the best feature of the dictionary is that it adds an icon to your toolbar. After selecting a piece of text in any windows program, you can then click on this to get a quick definition, synonym, quote etc. instantly. Very useful. *ENCARTA WORLD ATLAS Obviously the basic function of an atlas is to list places, and in this respect Encarta World Atlas is extremely good. You’d be hard pushed to find a
          place which isn’t listed. The dynamic map is probably the best feature, allowing you to rotate and zoom in on a 3D globe using a very intuitive control system. For larger cities there are street maps, and a good number of articles, photographs and so on. There are also many effects which you can apply to the map: for example you can overlay climate figures, languages or even look how the Earth looks by night. There is also a comprehensive number of articles about geography itself. These may back bring bad memories of geography lessons for some, but they are well written and of course will be invaluable for those at school at the moment. Some of the other features are less impressive though. The multimedia map is supposed to allow access to the multimedia content, but I found this slow and fiddly to use. Also while the still pictures and audio are fine, I was disappointed to see that the video was shown in a little box and of very poor quality. Isn’t this meant to be DVD? The world tours of full of interesting facts, but navigation is a bit fiddly as once you click on picture to see it full size there is no back button. You can get back by clicking the heading of the thing you were just looking at, but this does seem a bit inconsistent. The world compare feature certainly makes comparing statistics easy, but I imagine this will be little used by many users, mainly being of value to students. The virtual flights sound like a good idea (you get to fly over the continents in a plane) but sadly there is virtually no detail in the landscapes meaning that you simply fly over green land with the names of places suspended in the air. Very boring really. Last up is a geography quiz, which is quite good fun, and will certainly improve your knowledge of geography. In all this is a good program with lots of useful information, but I would say that the user interface could be improved quit
          e a bit to make accessing that info much easier. *ENCARATA ENCLOPYEDIA This is really the major programme on this disc, and its quality is extemely high. Unlike the slight niggles I had with the atlas, navigation is very easy, and all the information is well laid out and presented. Admittedly if you have had a previous version of Encarta, you will notice that a lot of the information is the same, but there have been a significant number of updates meaning that this is still worth a purchase. Thankfully the video in this section can be viewed full-screen, and while it’s not quite up to the quality you would expect from a DVD movie, it is far better than the video you get in the atlas section, or that available on previous editions of this encyclopaedia. My major criticism would be that the range on offer is not particularly extensive. As so often seems to be the case, the vast majority of these seem to be on wildlife which while interesting, do seem to be over represented. After all, you can turn your telly on virtually any time of the day and see a wildlife programme! Some of the more interesting and unusual clips are a bit from John Grierson’s Night Mail and quite a long clip on Peking Opera. As ever, more clips would be nice, but obviously there is a limited amount of space. Unlike the extra features on the atlas, pretty much all the extras on this program are very good: from the virtual tours which allow you to look round 3D photographs of various places; to the interactivities which provide insights into various topics; all of these significantly increase the value of this disc. As you would expect from a modern encyclopaedia, the program expands it content by making use of the Internet. First up is the yearbook feature, by which you can download new articles which are then integrated into the program. These is all made very easy to do by the program (it automatically checks what needs downl
          oading and then does this) and the fact that yearbook articles appear on the content pages of articles means that they are easier to find then they were in the past. The second major Internet feature is the links section which obviously takes you to related sites on the Internet. Sensibly, you are not taken directly there, but pass through another page by Microsoft which ensures that the links are always up to date and if any sites stop working an alternative can be offered. The links are all high quality, and I have found many interesting and useful sites which I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. *EXTRAS There are also a number of extra programmes on this disc. First is research organizer which is helpful to students when preparing reports or essays. You also get reference suite which has links to all the three major programmes I have detailed above. Useful if you want to find out what information is available on a particular topic. *OVERALL All in all this is a very high quality disc packed with useful and interesting information. In quality of presentation and content, it far exceeds any of the other titles I have looked at in this field, so I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a top quality reference title.

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          11.08.2000 08:40
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          The reference suite comes on 6 CD’s with a multimedia encyclopedia, a 3D world atlas and a dictionary. The encyclopedia has everything that you need and will be up to date with the latest information until Dec 2000, as that is when the web updates cease. It has a number of interesting features including virtual tours where you can explore (in a limited way) things from the space shuttle to a volcanic park in Hawaii. The atlas has information on over 1.6million places world wide, you want information on the place it is here. It also includes a number of views of the Earth from normal to night from crop to people distribution. The dictionary will link into your word processor, giving you definitions on tap, a more powerful thesaurus and translation facilities into French and German. It also has a quote for every occasion, some are OK but better ones can be obtained from the web. The suite has the same feel across all the packages and the search facility is very quick and flexible no matter what you are using. If you are creating a report using Word and you include text or graphics from the suite using cut and paste, it will automatically reference the information back to Encarta, although if you don’t need this reference it can be easily removed. The system can be customised to your requirements and although I have been using it on and off for the past 6 months I have only just scratched the surface. A good buy, but try to get it second-hand, as it is quite expensive new.

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          25.07.2000 06:48

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          This Encyclopedia is by far the best.The program is set up so I can find what I need with tons and tons of topics, and tons of information for each topic and I've never had any problems installing it. This program is really easy to use and almost anybody can run it. I would highly recommend it.Note the encyclopedia does however take up a lot of memory and space on a computer so if you computer is not great, this is probably not for you.

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          09.07.2000 05:13

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          This encyclopedia series has a good eputation for being developed by the leaders in the industry, Microsoft. Now the Encarta comes also in a DVD edition. The DVD is nothing new to encyclopedias though because it was introduced by Britannica last year. It is still not as good as the Britannica encyclopedias. Layout is teh same as usual just new modified articles. Nothing specail. I say get Britannica DVD 2000. So if you have all of the previoeds and want to add to the collection go ahead, otherwise don't bother.

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          05.07.2000 22:23

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          This is an unusual product in that microsoft produce it and no-one has complianed about it yet. It is infact, very good. Full colour pictures, classy animations and more information than you can shake a very large stick at, all on CD-ROM and updateable via the mracle of technology that is the internet. Generally the articles on Encarta are not in depth enough to research for, say, a thesis, but for secondary school students up to about GCSE level theya re excellent. If you fancy owning an encyclopaedia but don't have a room full of shelves, you should definitely cast youe eye over this - some of the articles make fascinating reading. But mak esure you buy the Britishh version, unless you like Americans, their stupid spellings and potted history of the world where America *has* a history.

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