Beiks Week: BDicty

by PocketGoddess on October 14, 2005

One of the great things about handhelds is that they replace so many things. If you have a Treo, you don’t need a separate phone, and depending on which model you have you don’t need an iPod because your PDA can play music, etc. Of course any Palm OS handheld can serve as an ebook reader, and the eReader site does have some good references. But if you want a superb dictionary program with all the bells and whistles, you need BDicty.

Beiks BDicty for Palm OS

BDicty required just under 200K of memory on your Palm OS device, and all of the dictionary databases can be stored on a memory expansion card to save valuable RAM space. The main screen is very nicely laid out, with a small dropdown box at the top that allows you to choose which dictionary you wish to use. Next to that is a little red and blue icon with two capital As and two arrows; this one has two uses. You can highlight a word in a definition and tap that icon to look it up in the dictionary, or you can use it to change the translation “direction” and go from French to English or vice versa. The small pencil icon to the right allows you to delete the word from the database or give it a more personal definition, while the small S allows you to switch between the official and personal definitions. The number in a box on the far right side allows you to switch the definition window on or off, which is helpful when you want to quickly scroll down a list of words.

Just below that top line of icons is the search bar. You can use Graffiti, the onscreen keyboard, or onscreen writing to enter letters, and as you enter each letter the list scrolls up. If you see the word you want, you don’t have to spell out the whole thing; just tap on the word to see the definition. The down arrow just to the right allows you to see your search history, and the eraser icon quickly clears the line so that you can look up another term. Underneath the search bar is the definition window and word list, neither of which needs any explanation. There are also a variety of preferences that you can set by choosing Options/Preferences from the menu bar. You can choose from four font settings, specify a particular directory on a memory card, and choose how you want to access BDicty as a pop-up window in other programs.

BDicty Talking Spanish Phrasebook

BDicty is much more than a dictionary though–with the addition of a talking phrasebook you can easily navigate in a foreign land where you don’t speak the language. When you open the phrasebook you’ll see a dropdown list of topics ranging from the basics, money, and directions to daily life, shopping, and emergencies (somewhat ironically placed at the bottom of the list). Choose a topic and you’ll see a list of relevant phrases; I tried out the Spanish edition and found that just about any basic need was adequately covered. When you see the phrase you want, tap on it to see the foreign language phrase at the bottom of the screen. If you have some knowledge of the language you can say the phrase yourself, or tap the small speaker icon at the top right corner of the screen to have your handheld do the talking. A female voice is used in the Spanish phrasebook, and I found the pronunciation to be clear and the sound quality to be quite good. It might feel a little strange to use it this way, but it is definitely better than handing over your device to a stranger, or having two of you crowding in to see the screen. While knowing the language is still the best way to go, the talking phrasebooks from Beiks are a great alternative if you just don’t have the time for an audio crash course.

Prices vary depending on the exact references you choose, and there are plenty available. The “lite” version of BDicty is free, and the Pro version is $10. Reference databases start at $10, and the talking phrasebooks are a good deal at $19.95. Though this review only covers the Palm OS version, there ere are also Pocket PC and Blackberry versions available. You can get an English dictionary, foreign language phrasebooks, talking phrasebooks, and even a few free lexicons all at the Beik’s web site.

5 out of 5

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