eBible for Palm OS

by PocketGoddess on November 17, 2004

Thomas Nelson’s eBible for Palm OS includes three translations of the Bible (King James, New King James, and the New Century Version) as well as two commentaries (the New Illustrated Bible COmmentary and Believer’s Bible Commentary), three dictionaries (New Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Vine’s Greek & Hebrew Expository Dictionaries), Greek and Hebrew lexicons, “Where to Find it in the Bible” and a devotional. That’s a rather complete package of reference materials for the average layperson, and all of them are nicely integrated with each other. The main window of eBible for Palm OS is very plain and simple, with a well-planned layout. Menus are accessed by tapping on the small icon in the top left corner, and right next to that is the translation selector. The current book and chapter are indicated right next to the translation, and tapping there will take you to the book selection screen. I was very pleased to see the option to sort the biblical books either traditionally (Genesis to Revelation) or alphabetically (Amos, Chronicles, Daniel, etc.) That’s a very friendly format, especially for newcomers to the Bible who may not know the order of the minor prophets, for example. Once you chose a book, you are then prompted to choose a chapter and verse, as is standard with Palm OS Bible applications.

Continuing across the top of the screen you’ll find controls for the search function, bookmarks, a strange-looking “window pane” and backward/forward navigation arrows. That funny little window pane turns the bottom “window” display on and off. You can either use eBible as a standard reading Bible or you can alternatively display a wide variety of resources such as the dictionaries and commentaries mentioned above. One of the easiest ways to access those extras is to tap on a verse number or an individual word in the text–you’ll get a popup menu asking you to select the type of resource you’d like to consult. Tapping on the word “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 will lead me to a dictionary definition, a topical reference, and entries in both commentaries. Even better is the fact that I can manually control the size of the bottom window by dragging on the arrows on the right side of the screen. I can make it so large that I can see only one line of the Bible, or I can shrink it down so that the Bible takes up most of the screen. If those bottom-screen resources reference another part of the Bible, one tap on the reference will take you directly to that chapter and verse faster than you could flip the pages in a printed Bible. You can also configure that bottom window to show another translation of the Bible, so that you can compare two at the same time.

You’ll also find some of the “extras” I’ve come to expect in electronic Bible packages, most notably a reading schedule. This one is rather well done, mainly because I like the freedom. Instead of providing the user with several different predefined plans such as “Bible in One Year” or “Psalms & Proverbs in Three Months” eBible leaves it completely up to the user. I created my own plan quite easily by choosing the translation and books I was interested in, the days of the week I wanted to include, and the start and finish dates. Note that though the standard Palm OS date picker is used to choose the dates, but after they are selected they are shown in European fashion, with the day first, then the month and year. When I specified those dates, eBible automatically calculated how many readings it would take to reach my goal, and also specified the numbers of verses that I would have to read each day. Once the plan is set up, you are provided with a simple checkbox for each day to fill in after you finish the reading, and your completion percentage is automatically updated. It simply couldn’t be easier.

Thomas Nelson has ambitious plans for eBible, and that’s a good thing. The library of resource books and Bible translations is rather limited at the moment, and there are a few minor quibbles to be worked out, such as full widescreen support on the Tapwave Zodiac (it works now, but with a few glitches). I’d also like to see more font options (there are currently four to choose from) as well as an autoscroll option. A maintenance update is already in the works, as is a Pocket PC version and fuller integration with the desktop PC version of eBible. As it stands eBible for Palm OS is a strong, easy-to-use application with some very nice touches; it just needs a stronger library of resources to go with it. It’s available now for $59.99, though several online sites sell it for $39.97. For more information, visit the Thomas Nelson web site.

PocketGoddess Rating for eBible for Palm OS: 4 out of 5

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