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The Great Palm OS Dictionary Shoot-out: BDicty, Mi:D, MSDict, Oxford American, and PocketLingo
Posted December 2003 by Tanker Bob — page 2

BDicty 5.3 English Heritage Bundle from Beiks

Beiks remains one of the stalwarts of the PDA dictionary world. Their offerings include more than just English language tools, but extend to inter-language dictionaries, speaking phrase dictionaries that use real human voices, and a wide variety of references in fields like medical, law, theology, etc. They just released a new app for spell checking: LexSpell. The $24 English Heritage Bundle tested here includes full pro version of the reader, three sizes of the English dictionary, a thesaurus, and a verb conjugator. For this review, I used the English Pro dictionary with 77,000 headwords and the thesaurus with 55,000 words. The just-released BDicty Pro 5.3 sports full Tungsten T3 DIA support.

BDicty provides a clean, easy to use interface with a clever twist. The screen split between the word list and the definition varies depending on focus. While searching, the word list takes up about 2/3 of the screen. When encountering a match while typing, the definition side grows to take up 2/3 of the screen. The split may be set vertical or horizontal. Very nice implementation.

Any word inside a definition may be defined by double-tapping to select it then tapping the AA icon on the top bar. Tapping the pencil icon edits or adds a word or definition. The ability to add words to the dictionary proved unique to BDicty in this roundup. The icon next to the pencil switches between stock and custom definitions. The 1 or 2 in the upper right changes focus between the definition and word list. Swap dictionaries with the pull-down list box at the top. When swapping databases, BDicty immediately tries to find the word on the input line in the new dictionary/reference.

BDicty can be pulled up from inside other programs by being made resident. It uses the command line as well as hotkeys, reducing the possibility of interfering with other silk screen or button assignments. When activated, BDicty looks up the highlighted word in the starting app. It proved the most adept in this group at this task, being the only one that works in WordSmith.

BDicty supports a number of options from the menu, using a pull down list of setting dialogs. These can be used to set the list/definition panels with horizontal or vertical separation and use automatic changing of focus of the two windows, location of databases, startup appearance, and resident settings. BDicty performs lookups from the card with rapidity, where its databases can be located in a dedicated directly for faster access.




screen shot

BDicty's primary English Pro dictionary uses an enhanced WordNet database. Although it sports the lowest headword count in this roundup, BDicty came out tied at the top in my word test—locating all but two difficult words and all the modern words. That equaled the American Heritage College Dictionary that sports over 244,000 words! That alone should dispel the usefulness of headword count by itself. In fact, BDicty's database seems to contain the same word list as Mi:D's, and Mi:D claims over 100,000 words. The thesaurus also put in a good showing, being one of the strong points of the WordNet system.

BDicty hasn't updated its English dictionary offerings in over a year, while other companies have introduced expanded English dictionary lines. BDicty's product manager indicated that new dictionaries will be forthcoming in mid to late January. I'll be looking forward to that with interest. The dictionary reader continues its continuous growth. The new 5.3 reader release not only included Palm OS DIA support, but native ARM code to improve stability under OS 5 and improved hotkey support for the Treo 600.

In addition to its language offerings, BDicty offers a number of free databases and even a free, reduced version of its reader. Its quality and breadth of offerings has kept BDicty in the top tier of the Palm OS dictionary market, and will continue to do so.

Pros :

Simple, elegant interface

Excellent word coverage

Nice resident pop-up implementation that works in WordSmith

Support for Palm OS DIA

Cons :

WordNet-based dictionary with attendant definition limitations discussed in the side trip

NEXT -> Mi:D

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