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eBible for Palm OS 1.0 – Deluxe Bundle
Posted Nov. 2004 by Tanker Bob

At MobileTechReview.com, we last reviewed the five most popular Bible programs back in February. We now happily report that time has not stood still since then. A few small players have entered the market in the interim, and all the usual suspects continue to expand their offerings. In addition, a major new player has just burst upon the scene.

Thomas Nelson Publishing contracted Godspeed Computing to bring some of Nelson's content to the Palm platform. Nelson is one of the major forces in Christian publishing, owning the copyright to the excellent New King James Version translation. Godspeed developed and produces their successful eBible hardware/software ebook combination. The fruit of collaboration between these two powerhouses—eBible for Palm OS 1.0 – Deluxe Bundle—proved too tempting to pass up a look-see. I tested eBible for Palm on my Tungsten|T3 with a 512 MB Panasonic SD card.

 

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The simplicity of the interface enhances its elegance. The display may be split into two windows. The window boundary can be moved by dragging the double arrow at the right of the center boundary area, thus resizing both windows. The Bible always appears in the top window, and the references in the bottom window. A toolbar at the top has icons for searching, bookmarks, toggling the second window, and a forward/back function for the Bible window. The darkness of the highlighting can be set by the user in Preferences.

 

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Navigation is simplicity itself. Tap on the Bible version to choose a different version. Tap on the book name to go to three successive screens where you select the book, chapter, and verse respectively. Alternately, you can choose the chapter and verse in the upper right corner of the book display. The Palm 5-way can be used in these displays to choose the book, chapter, and verse.

The page up/down buttons may be set in the Preferences to move by page, line, or verse through the Bible. Page up/down can only be used in the top window because its focus cannot be changed to the bottom window. The scroll bar must be used in the bottom window, which means the overall program cannot be fully used one-handed.

 

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Tapping on a verse number or word in a Bible brings up a pop-up menu of reference types from which to seek further enlightenment, or a few other helpful functions. Search will open the search screen with the highlighted word. The last-used reference in a category pops up when you select the reference type. For example, if you last used one of Vine’s dictionaries, Vine’s will come up again when you next select Dictionary. The user can add their own notes as well, which act like a commentary. If you have only one window open and tap on a word or verse, then select a reference type, eBible will open the second window automatically with the requested reference opened in it. There’s no option to scroll the top and bottom windows together by verse, however. The user must go through the same tap and select process for every verse.

 

 

The Deluxe Bundle includes a good selection of Nelson's popular references. It comes with three Bible versions: The King James, New King James Version, and the New Century Versions; New Strong's Greek and Hebrew Lexicons which work with the KJV; two dictionaries: Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Greek of OT and NT Words; two commentaries: Believer's Bible Commentary and Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nelson also included Where To Find It In The Bible and Max Lucado's Grace For The Moment Devotional. All are faithful evangelical references, although both commentaries present a dispensational eschatology. I thought that the New Illustrated Bible Dictionary in particular stood out as an excellent work. eBible also supports a reading schedule, though it doesn't include one. All the references may be stored on the card in the /Palm/Launcher/ directory. eBible provides good access speed for the references on card.

As this review goes to press, Nelson has included all but one their available references in the current Deluxe Bundle, with the last (Smith’s Bible Dictionary) supplied when users register the product. eBible's web site promises more references in the future, though those included will keep you plenty busy for now. Although well designed for average-level students of the Scriptures, eBible doesn't do original Greek or Hebrew at all. I am not aware of any growth path in that direction at the moment. Vine's and Strong's are as close as you'll get.

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Two features speak well to the level of detail that went into eBible's design. If you tap on a word and select Dictionary, but your highlighted word isn't in the dictionary in that exact form, eBible offers up words that would be around your word in the reference when you tap on the down arrow next to the word display. So if you lookup "called", which comes up "not found", tapping on the down arrow next to “called” pops up a list-box window with surrounding words, including "call, calling". Second, every Bible verse and Strong's number in the reference window hyperlinks to its location or definition. Using the back arrow after jumping to a linked verse returns to the original verse. Additionally, you can write/type a word or Strong’s number to look up directly on the text line in the dictionary/lexicon.

As you can tell from the screen shots, eBible supports the T3's 320x480 portrait mode. While the program displays in the T3 landscape mode, it has issues and doesn't use the entire screen width. I've already covered virtually all of the user settings. eBible has few settings for the user to change, making it simple to use.

Being a 1.0 re lease, there remain a few technical issues. For instance on my T3, eBible doesn't release about 300K of RAM each time it’s executed and exited. While the memory leak adds up after a number of executions, soft resetting recovers the entire RAM. It doesn't detract from the usefulness of the program, and I'm sure will be quickly fixed.

The eBible for Palm OS 1.0 – Deluxe Bundle sells for $39.97, less than the combined total of any three of the included references in print. That’s a good deal for those who don’t need or use original languages in their study but want print-quality references. Nelson and Godspeed teamed to provide a quality study tool for the Palm in your hand—a welcome addition to the growing stable of fine Bible study programs available for your Palm OS device.

Pros:
Simple to use
Good selection of quality references included
Excellent hyperlinking throughout
Direct lookup available in dictionaries and lexicons

Cons:
No original language support
Can’t scroll-lock commentaries with verses
Must use stylus to scroll bottom window

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