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PC Reviews: Microsoft Encarta 2005 Premium Suite DVD                Genre: Reference


Encarta 2005 Premium Suite Screenshots

The Final Say!


Encarta Premium Suite 2005 DVD
 - reviewed by Tory Favro
Review Date: October 2004
Review Score: 9.1/10 
Not based on an average.
Distributor: Microsoft

Every year the Encarta range comes out and every year I say to myself, how can it get any better! Yet every year Microsoft tweak and prod and this version of Encarta is simply the best yet.

It's going to sound silly mentioning this first however a favourite new feature on this program for me was the inclusion of a search bar that incorporates itself into your task bar. You are always just a short search away from finding the information that you need. It's a nice unobtrusive integration into your operating system that quickly proves itself to be quite a resource. Simply by typing the thing that you need information on into the search bar, it will automatically perform the search for you and display the results. It's really useful and clever to boot.

Next is the inclusion of a kids encyclopaedia which is about time in my books. Kids need something exciting to stimulate their passion for knowledge and the layout and form of this encyclopaedia ensures that they are not going to get bored anytime soon when using the product. The Children's Encarta is aimed at ages 12 and below and the content is appropriate for that age. So if the young un's need something older they are going to have to deal with the adult version of the software.

In terms of general resource providing, Encarta would have to be one of the easiest to navigate that I have used. It's set up in the same way as you would expect a web page to be setup with navigation links provided to relevant areas to the one that you are currently searching in. As with last year's version you can keep abreast of all the latest goings on in the world with the online update facility. This service is simply sensational not to mention the fact that students will get the most out of this by making sure that their work is up to date. I honestly believe that kids who use Encarta will have the edge on those that don't. That may not seem fair, however give this program a try and see if you don't agree with me.

Compounding my last paragraph is the fact that Encarta even provides assistance with homework, starting and finishing any projects and work with the child. With the assistance of World English Dictionary, Thesaurus and Bilingual Dictionary, there almost isn't any call for your kids to have to access any other source of information, especially when you update Encarta on a regular basis as it is updated online about once a week with new information.

Once again there are a number of videos that have been supplied courtesy of the Discovery Channel that really illustrate and highlight the contextual points that Encarta is trying to make about a number of topics. The DVD format is perfect for this sort of presentation, without having to compromise with really crummy video quality due to the limitations of CD.

Encarta really is the premium way to find out more about the Earth and it's inhabitants in my opinion. Basically it's level of interactivity ensures that you are not going to get sick of finding out about things and the way that Encarta presents facts and figures to you ensures that you are going to click your way through one topic and onto the next. Add to that there is a wealth of Australian content in here and that makes Encarta more than your run of the mill knowledge resource, or Americanised software that Aussies just have to make do with.

There's a real emphasis on looking after the kids in this addition and in my eyes that's not such a bad thing. With Encarta covering as much as it does, there's really no need for younger computer users to resort to using search engines and the like to get the results they need to the questions they might be asking you as parents. Web browsing is fun, I'll be the first to admit to that, however eventually, it doesn't matter what topic you choose, some idiot will have used that keyword for their porn site. The aim behind having a resource like Encarta is that your child's searching is concentrated within a controlled environment without the distractions of inappropriate material. So not only are you getting your kids the information that they need, but also allowing them to use technology to find it at the same time. I think this is awesome.

All things said and done I do believe that this version of Encarta is simply the best one yet. Packed with features and absolute ease of navigation, the folks at Microsoft have outdone themselves yet again with a quality product. I can say without hesitation that if you are a parent of students then you simply must own this release as it will give your kids the edge on their school work without a doubt. In fact, it's almost compulsory buying now with the rest of the kid's school books and stationery. Add to that the fact that with this version of the software supporting a full hard drive install and you've got yourself a very potent learning tool.

Highly recommended. Again.

- Tory Favro

Copyright 2004