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arzinger

Electronic Dictionary

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arzinger

Hi,

like the title already suggests I am looking for an electronic dictionary. I have read through many threads in this forum and still don't know what to get, there are so many possibilities.

Last week I bought a Besta(好易通) CD-810 here in Xi'An and was quite content with all its functions except the pinyin search(looking for "xuyao" you first have to search for "xu" and then for "yao", which is useless when I do not know how to write the word at all). This was also the reason I gave it back. Except for this missing function it is a real good dictionary with good character recognition, a chengyu dictionary, multiple language dictionaries(nice for me being half German/Russian ..), plus I only paid 900RMB.

I haven't found out a lot about the 步步高-dictionaries, I hear very often that they are very good but I don't know any good models or what functions they have. Can anyone compare it to Besta dictionaries or just tell about their experiences(character recognition, size of dictionary, languages, pinyin input ..).

Then I read about the Canon Wordtank V80 here on the forums, which sounds and looks really nice, but I haven't found it on the internet here yet, I mean on a Chinese website for purchase. Plus on western sites it's really a lot more expensive(350$+) in contrast to the 120$ something for the Besta dictionary ..

The next possibility would be an Iphone in combination with Plecodict or other dictionaries, I also heard there are chengyu-applications and other stuff for it. But all in all I think it is just to expensive, although the character recognition is supposed to be excellent.

Another option would be getting a Chinese touchscreen cell phone(e.g. Samsung Star S5230) and then use an online dictionary like http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/mobile.php ..

You see, I am really confused and dont know what to do. I also already thought about the Palm OS solution .. my dictionary should have good character recognition, multi-syllable pinyin input, a good English-Chinese dictionary like Oxford or Cambridge as a basis, multi-language wouldn't be bad but is not a must. Anyone got good suggestions? Thanks a lot, Michael.

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Don_Horhe

Hi! I have a 步步高 E900 and I'm very satisfied with it. It has tons of stuff in it and you can download more from their website. The only drawback is that it's a little pricey - currently 1800 at retailers in Wuhan, last summer I saw it in Beijing for 2200.

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tooironic

I have a Bubugao as well, got it from China a couple of years ago and I love it! Sorry I don't know the exact model number, but it's white and has a touchscreen/stylus, kind of like this one but a non-mobile phone version.

Pros:

  • great English -> Chinese dictionary, and pretty good Chinese -> English
  • doubles as an mp3 player / USB stick (gotta buy a decent memory stick though)
  • you can input characters easily using a stylus

Cons:

  • although you can input traditional, the dictionaries themselves don't have traditional entries (though they do list the traditional versions next to each entry)
  • stylus quite small for my big Western hands
  • some mp3s don't play well and I still haven't worked out how to properly encode text files to read on the train

Apart from that though it does its job very well and would recommend it to anyone. It has quite a number of extra features too but I never use them (e.g. "E-pets", a video playing function, games, a "translator", photo albums, etc).

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xiaotao

I think the touch screen iphone, ipod, etc is too small for mdbg. I tried it and thought it was rather awkward and slow. mdbg is good for most look ups but I like having the Besta because it has phrases that can not be found in mdbg. There are some different models of Besta, but I doubt if anyone of them will have all the features that learners need. We have the Pleco demo. I'm still checking it out.

I

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creamyhorror

The next possibility would be an Iphone in combination with Plecodict or other dictionaries, I also heard there are chengyu-applications and other stuff for it. But all in all I think it is just to expensive, although the character recognition is supposed to be excellent.

How about the iPod? It has the same OS as the iPhone. I got a friend to buy one, and he's very happy because he can use Japanese EPWING dictionaries on it.

I use Stardict dictionaries on my iPhone (现代汉语词典、高级汉语大词典、小学堂Chinese-Japanese and others), as well as a CC-CEDICT app (iCED), and it's very handy. I can also access Jukuu, nciku and so forth directly from my home screen. So I don't have a need for an handheld electronic dictionary. Of course, it takes a bit of setup - you have to install a Stardict-format dictionary app, then copy the dictionaries into the iPod/iPhone.

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daofeishi

I have one of these, which I settled on after having tried 3-4 other models/brands of electronic dictionaries, including Besta. I think it has to be one of the best electronic dictionaries I've seen for any language

- It's really fast. It has the fastest lookup algorithm I've seen so far. I've tried a couple of electronic dictionaries that have had noticeable delays. The worst I've ever seen was a really lumpy, linux-based 诺亚舟 model that would take forever to turn on and use a couple of seconds for every lookup. That got frustrating after a while.

- It doesn't have a clamshell design, which means that it stays flat on the table and is easy to whip out and use whenever you need to.

- The handwriting recognition is great. No matter how much I mangle the stroke order or how illegible my handwriting gets, it usually comes up with the right character among the choices.

- It's pretty cheap, since it is mainly made for Chinese students. (As opposed to the more expensive Bestas that have been designed for foreigners). Some people might say that the extra functionality you get with a Besta makes the jump in price worth it, but I still haven't found a Besta user who regularly uses the review functions on it. As long as you mainly need a dictionary, I think a 步步高 is a better choice. Use the money you save on a Skritter account or something.

- It seems to be pretty durable. I've had mine for about 3 years, and I've never had a problem with it. It doesn't seem like its going to die in the near future either

- It comes with a collection of texts for Chinese students - things like study advice, tang poetry, short stories, jokes and essays - some with English translations even. That makes for some pretty good study material.

- I have had good experiences with their service. A friend of mine broke the screen on a similar model. When he went to the store, they replaced the whole touch screen on the spot for a very reasonable price. Also, if you lose your stylus (as I've done a couple of times). they ARE replacable ;)

- The battery lasts forever. I use mine a lot, and it can go up to 2-3 weeks between every time I have to charge it.

However it doesn't have the kind of pinyin lookup you are looking for. It only does pinyin-single character conversion. That can be a nuisance if you often find that you want to look up a word but don't know how to spell it. The way I'm dealing with that is to do a reverse lookup based on the English meaning of the word and try to locate the right word among the results. That usually works for me.

(Oh yeah, and since it is made for middle school/high school students, it comes with some pretty flashy and silly software in addition to the dictionary. If that's a pro or a con is up to you to decide :mrgreen:)

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chrix

Just a question (and I don't mean to troll, I mean it as an honest question). Why would you buy an electronic dictionary in this day and age, if you just could get Chinese character support and an internet data package for your smart phone? I personally just find most electronic dictionaries too limited...

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OneEye

I'd say get an iPod Touch and the free version of Pleco. It doesn't sound like you need any of the paid add-on dictionaries just yet. Then later you can upgrade when you need to. Plus, as you said, there are chengyu apps and all kinds of other stuff. I even have the 說文解字 on mine, which is pretty cool.

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buzhongren

I dont understand why they are so expensive. I can get European language dictionaries in the US for $20. I figured one for Chinese students learning English would be as cheap. My netbook computer only cost $300 and I can find a free wifi spot somewhere. I would like something cheap that has pinyin and radical/stroke lookup.

xiele,

Jim

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tooironic
I have one of these

For the record, that's mine.

Just a question (and I don't mean to troll, I mean it as an honest question). Why would you buy an electronic dictionary in this day and age, if you just could get Chinese character support and an internet data package for your smart phone?

Because I'm a poor uni student who couldn't afford such an extravagent expense? :D Also because the NAATI translation accreditation examinations I have to attend don't allow mobile phones. And I despise expensive, snooty-tooty mobile phones. And lastly, I'm not in China, so getting a Chinese-language phone is proving difficult (without a credit card that is).

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chrix

How much is a bubugao or any other device? I think you should have another look at so-called extravagant snooty-tooty smartphones again, prices have come down considerably. And it's also a myth that you need to buy them from China for them to be able to handle Chinese characters... (you might need to flash it, but there's plenty of advice on that)

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tooironic

I honestly can't remember how much I paid for mine so many years ago, but it can't have been that much as I wouldn't have accepted an exorbitant price. Anyway, I like having a dictionary that is seperate to my mobile phone. I know the kind of phones you are talking about - those unreliable, easily-damaged nuisances that get you hooked on Facebook all day. Do not want. As for getting Chinese-language-supported phones outside China, I've yet to see any, even on ebay, but I'd like to be pleasantly surprised.

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chrix
I know the kind of phones you are talking about - those unreliable, easily-damaged nuisances that get you hooked on Facebook all day. Do not want.

prejudiced much? We're not talking about Facebook here... It's always up to the user how you use your phone :conf And what do you mean by "unreliable"?

As for getting Chinese-language-supported phones outside China, I've yet to see any, even on ebay, but I'd like to be pleasantly surprised.

I thought you knew the "kind of phones" I'm talking about...?

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tooironic

Like I said earlier, smart phones = do not want. What I would be up for would be a cheap phone that supports Chinese input but still has predictive text - an apparent rarity.

As for unreliable, I'm merely talking from experience, but most people I know who have newfangled phones can't stop bitching about them. Rather than make their lives more convenient they just seem to cause more stuffing around. But anyway, we digress.

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chrix

Well, I guess personal predilections aren't really valid arguments, though I used to prejudiced towards smartphones myself, until I bought one, and it's completely changed the way I access the internet, but yeah, we digress.

I'm not an expert on smartphones, but here's what I know (and there was a thread on this)

iPhones come ready with CJK text input (and most other languages with non-Latin script)

I'm also told that Blackberries can be set up with Asian character support..

Not too sure about Android

I myself use Nokia a lot, and as I said earlier, it's simply a matter of reflashing your phone. I don't know much about other phones.

Right now there seems to be a lot going on on the market, I'm sure there's a lot of trash, I won't name names here, but I know why I'm sticking with Nokia :wink:

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imron

The iPhone is a really nice phone, and I don't have much to gripe about it. That being said however I actually think I preferred Pleco on the Palm. At first I thought it would be great not to have to carry around an extra device, but now I find I miss having a dedicated device as a dictionary :-? This is especially noticeable if I'm doing timing practice for a given passage and I might find myself frequently swapping between the stopwatch, calculator and pleco. A few seconds startup time is not much, but you really start to notice it compared to having the dedicated device.

There also seems to be a lot of swapping back and forth between different screens (definition screen/input screen, definition screen/input screen) which also takes maybe half a second each, whereas previously on the Palm it was all on the one screen and things appeared more or less instantly. I guess this is probably a limitation of the iPhone interface, which feels far more cramped than the Palm version

Finally I also find I miss the flashcards from the Palm version. Although I don't really use the SRS function, it's nice to have lists to revise off. The iPhone Pleco does allows you to create a list of looked-up words, but it doesn't automatically populate them with definitions and you can't revise them on the phone itself. This problem however should be resolved once flashcards are added in the next update.

That being said, IMO Pleco is still the best value electronic dictionary around for the Chinese-learner. It's designed specifically for that market, so it tends to do all the things a learner of Chinese wants/needs. If you already have a Palm or a Windows Mobile phone, that would be my first choice, followed then by the iPhone/iPod version.

Regarding cheaper phones, most non-smart phones can just be flashed to support Chinese. If you don't want to do it yourself, there are plenty of places in Melbourne that will do it for your (for a fee). Predictive text is pretty standard, even on the older phones. My Nokia 3310 used to have it and that was maybe 7-8 years ago.

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character
There also seems to be a lot of swapping back and forth between different screens (definition screen/input screen, definition screen/input screen) which also takes maybe half a second each, whereas previously on the Palm it was all on the one screen and things appeared more or less instantly.
Two things to try: go through and turn off the few animation/delay settings, and try using landscape mode.
I guess this is probably a limitation of the iPhone interface, which feels far more cramped than the Palm version
Yes, the higher resolution screen lets more information be displayed, but a lot of that is lost because the controls have to be bigger.

Lots of cheap digital watches have a timer/countdown feature.

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arzinger
Hi! I have a 步步高 E900 and I'm very satisfied with it. It has tons of stuff in it and you can download more from their website. The only drawback is that it's a little pricey - currently 1800 at retailers in Wuhan, last summer I saw it in Beijing for 2200.
What about the pinyin input, are two syllables possible?
How about the iPod? It has the same OS as the iPhone. I got a friend to buy one, and he's very happy because he can use Japanese EPWING dictionaries on it.
A friend of mine also suggested this option, but what about the input of letters, does it have a touchpad keyboard .. ? Sounds like a good option, though.

I have one of these, which I settled on after having tried 3-4 other models/brands of electronic dictionaries, including Besta. I think it has to be one of the best electronic dictionaries I've seen for any language
How much does it cost(or other comparable models)? I couldn't find anything on amazon.cn ..

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imron
Two things to try: go through and turn off the few animation/delay settings, and try using landscape mode.
Where are the animation/delay settings found? Also, landscape mode doesn't help. What I really miss is being able to write a character and have both the definition and the list of results all there on the same screen underneath what I'd been writing. I asked about it on Pleco forums and Mike says basically having that would make things too laggy on the iPhone.
Lots of cheap digital watches have a timer/countdown feature.

But the whole point of getting it on the iPhone was to reduce the amount of devices I own/carry around :mrgreen: I don't want to buy a cheap digital watch when I already have a good stopwatch on my iPhone, besides, this was just one example. There are others, and whatever way you look at it, 3-4 seconds startup time just can't compete with instant - which is what I had with the Palm version, because I only used the Palm for Pleco so it was there as soon as I turned it on.

Don't get me wrong, Pleco is great, I just miss some of the things from the Palm version.

What about the pinyin input, are two syllables possible?

With Pleco, multiple pinyin syllables are possible and you can also use wildcards. Forgotten the middle character of a 3-4 character word, just use the @ instead and it will show all results that could match. Plus when searching you can arbitrarily combine characters, pinyin and pinyin with tone numbers. For example, perhaps you want to look up the word 复杂 and you remember how to write 复 but not 杂, just put 复za into the search box and it will find it.

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gato
Don't get me wrong, Pleco is great, I just miss some of the things from the Palm version.

Let's suggest some of these things on Plecoforums. I have faith that Mike can get some of these implemented. He's already said that improving the interface is one of the major goals for the next revision.

I've kept somewhat of a list of suggestions myself (mostly in terms of more optimal default settings and simplifying the "settings" menu), but haven't gotten around to posting it.

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