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The Black Friday question (buying iPhone?)


dreamon

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So, what's the consensus now on the use of iPhone for learning Chinese? Is it worth buying? I am not a fan of gadgets, but learning characters, flashcarding, and building vocabulary from printed text may be potentially easier with such a device. I don't have a Mac nor an iPad, will connect to a "regular" laptop. How much stuff will I have to buy? (iPhone, Pleco, various cases, boxes and connecting cables, other apps and software?, databases?, monthly payments) Does iPhone really do flashcards the way a laptop does? Can I exchange wordlists between the two? Are there serious issues with iPhone that I should be aware of? How about Android, Samsung, Blackberry etc., can they be used almost as well, for learning Chinese, or not? Does Pleco run entirely on the phone or it communicates with the server? Thanks!

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You want to take at look some old reviews first for background knowledge? Pleco for iOS has gone through a few upgrades since then, but these are still pretty useful.

http://www.sinosplice.com/life/archives/2009/10/22/the-pleco-iphone-app-beta

The Pleco iPhone App (beta)

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

http://www.sinosplice.com/life/archives/2009/10/27/michael-love-on-the-pleco-iphone-app

Michael Love on the Pleco iPhone App

http://www.sinosplice.com/life/archives/2010/08/31/back-to-the-iphone-its-all-about-chinese

31 Aug 2010

Back to the iPhone (it’s all about Chinese!)

I don't have a Mac nor an iPad, will connect to a "regular" laptop.

Do you mean will it work with Windows? Yes, iPhone will work with Windows.

How much stuff will I have to buy? (iPhone, Pleco, various cases, boxes and connecting cables, other apps and software?, databases?, monthly payments)

The cable used to connect to your PC comes with the iPhone. You just need to buy an iPhone/iPod Touch. Pleco has a free demo version on which you can install CEDICT to give it a try.

How much an iPhone costs and what kind of phone company contract/plan you needs varies from country to country. Where do you live?

Does iPhone really do flashcards the way a laptop does? Can I exchange wordlists between the two?

Yes. You can save your flashcards on the iPhone as text file and then download to your PC. It works in the other direction, too.

Does Pleco run entirely on the phone or it communicates with the server?

It works as a standalone program and only needs to access a server when upgrading or installing a new dictionary.

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Sweetybox> i don't think it's neccessary to buy an Iphone or Ipad to learn Chinese. ... by the way i'm native Chinese

Certainly, Sweetybox, it isn't necessary, you are right! But if it helps, it may make learning Chinese just easy enough, or make it available at just the right enough time (e.g. while eating, before sleeping, in other places...) that a qualitative jump occurs and all of a sudden I am making progress! And having my first conversation, reading the first book! What if?

gato> Do you mean will it work with Windows? Yes,

It may work comfortably, or with issues. For example, I had an iPod long ago, and I could only exchange data between the iPod and my laptop via iTunes (or what was it called), not just by copying the files. And that was a big pain, because iTunes kept track of the files in a very messy way.

gato> The cable used to connect to your PC comes with the iPhone. You just need to buy an iPhone/iPod Touch. Pleco has a free demo version on which you can install CEDICT to give it a try.

Does CEDICT include DeFrancis' ABC Comprehensive? Do I have to pay for the dictionary, and Pleco, and the audio base, and the optical character feature, etc.? My right to use Pleco is permanent or is there a monthly fee?

gato> How much an iPhone costs and what kind of phone company contract/plan you needs varies from country to country. Where do you live?

Right now I live in the USA and will use AT&T, with a standard 2-year plan.

gato> Yes. You can save your flashcards on the iPhone as text file and then download to your PC. It works in the other direction, too.

The links you gave seem to say that there is no flashcard program for Pleco, but apparently they are outdated. Is the new flashcard program convenient, easy to use? Pops up the right words at the right time? Download to my PC simply means copy-paste, no iTunes mess?

BTW, can I easily open iPhone 4 and get out the battery? (With my current phone, there is no way to ensure its silence other than popping the battery out - it can turn on by itself!)

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interesting. I was using anki for some years and have a large selfmade deck of flashcards. Is it possible to sync it with anki iphone version? Do I need an own server for this? Or could I convert the deck including learning statictics to plecos format?

Another great thing would be to have the iphone do ocr with pictures from the cam.

And I recommend buying slides and a bumper. So the i will look like fresh from foxconn when you sell it later.

regards,

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Certainly, Sweetybox, it isn't necessary, you are right! But if it helps, it may make learning Chinese just easy enough, or make it available at just the right enough time (e.g. while eating, before sleeping, in other places...) that a qualitative jump occurs and all of a sudden I am making progress!

Definitely. I started using Pleco several years ago on a Sony CLIE (Palm OS), and all of a sudden I became an obsessive user of flashcards and would be flipping through them every time I was waiting for something or had 10-15 minutes free.

Does CEDICT include DeFrancis' ABC Comprehensive? Do I have to pay for the dictionary, and Pleco, and the audio base, and the optical character feature, etc.? My right to use Pleco is permanent or is there a monthly fee?

The CEDICT is a public domain Chinese-to-English dictionary compiled with internet user contributions. The ABC Dictionary is a paid add-on you can purchase for Pleco. The purchase price is a one-time fee as opposed to a subscription model that requires additional future payments for the same product. Most upgrades so far have been free, too. That means going back to the Palm OS for me.

You can see the list for the add-ons and dictionaries as well as bundles that are available on the Pleco web site:

http://www.pleco.com/ippricing.html

The links you gave seem to say that there is no flashcard program for Pleco, but apparently they are outdated. Is the new flashcard program convenient, easy to use? Pops up the right words at the right time? Download to my PC simply means copy-paste, no iTunes mess?

The flashcard is fairly easy to use, but I think it still has somewhat of a learning curve for new users or those not so technically oriented because it has so many features. Mike Love is working on making the interface more beginner-friendly for the upcoming version 2.3 release.

You can transfer flashcards either via iTunes. Or if your iPhone and your PC are sharing the same WiFi network, you can use a function within Pleco that turns the iPhone into a web server which allows you to upload text files onto the phone through your PC web browser.

BTW, can I easily open iPhone 4 and get out the battery? (With my current phone, there is no way to ensure its silence other than popping the battery out - it can turn on by itself!)

You can't take the battery out by yourself. You have to take it to the Apple Store to change batteries. There is a switch on the side for turning off sound, however.

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I am using Pleco on an iPod Touch and I export the cards to Anki. I sync the iTouch with a normal Windows laptop.

The Pleco flashcard program is not free, but the CC-CEDICT dictionary is a free add-on (along with ADSO).

There are two versions of Anki for iOS. There is a free one that you can get if you jailbreak your device. I used to use this and it was perfectly fine. Now there is an official Anki app that you can buy in the Apple Store which costs $24. It is much more fully-featured, although you still probably still need the desktop version to sync with.

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c4oyu4n> And I recommend buying slides and a bumper.

Do you mean a case and a screen protector? Sorry, I have yet to learn iPhonese :)

c4oyu4n> Another great thing would be to have the iphone do ocr with pictures from the cam.

Yes, this is a great function, but there is one problem: the entries are populated from a dictionary, and for beginner words or single characters the translations are monstrously long. I wonder if there is an easy way to truncate them.

gato> I started using Pleco several years ago on a Sony CLIE (Palm OS), and all of a sudden I became an obsessive user of flashcards ...

Finally, an obsessive electronic game that's actually useful, in so many ways!

feihong> Now there is an official Anki app that you can buy in the Apple Store which costs $24. It is much more fully-featured, ...

Is there any advantage in buying Anki on top of the Pleco bundle? I still need the dictionaries and character recognition, both visual and written. Also, I would like the Pleco flashcards feature to practice writing characters. Gato, do you use that mode of Pleco flashcards where you write characters? Does it work well? The stylus for iPhone that I saw has a rather big head, maybe 5 mm - is there a reason why it is so big?

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I don't have an iPhone, but I have an iTouch (same thing, as far as this discussion goes).

I'll just say that I use my iTouch to study Chinese all the time, and sometimes I don't know what I'd do without it. When reading, I can look up new characters, easily transfer lists to my computer and put them into my flashcard software (which I also sync onto my iTouch, so I can study anywhere)

Consider an iTouch as a cheaper alternative, if you already have a phone. But anyways, if you did buy an iPhone, it would be a great help in your Chinese studies. (Although you are right that iTunes SUCKS)

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@dreamon

I use Anki because it's a good general-purpose flashcard program. The flashcard feature of Pleco is nice, but inadequate for anything except Chinese flashcards. I have some flashcards in my deck that are not Chinese-related. I would rather keep all my flashcards together rather than use two separate flashcard programs.

I can't speak to how useful the handwriting feature is for flashcards, but I did buy that add-on and I think it was worth it. It seems to work better than the built-in Chinese handwriting recognition that the iTouch ships with. The main advantage for me is that it can recognize both simplified and traditional characters without needing to switch modes.

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valikor> Consider an iTouch as a cheaper alternative, if you already have a phone.

In the USA, if you get a two-year commitment with AT&T, you get an about $200 discount on a new phone. You can take advantage of this discount every two years, so I have been buying a new phone every two years (and giving away the old one to my relatives). Some simpler phones you can get essentially for free. I doubt that such a deal works for iTouch.

feihong> I use Anki because it's a good general-purpose flashcard program. ... I can't speak to how useful the handwriting feature is for flashcards, but I did buy that add-on and I think it was worth it.

I tried installing Anki on my laptop, but didn't like a few things, e.g. the way it downloaded voice pronunciations for each character from the web even though it already had an mp3 library for all pinyin syllables. I guess I will try Pleco flashcards, assuming they do spaced repetition. If I can practice and test writing characters, that would be awesome.

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Pleco does have Spaced Repetition for flashcards. I prefer to use a more manually control method for flashcards as I use them only irregularly and under spaced repetition, cards tend to pile up if you don't study on a daily basis.

Here is a section from Pleco's manual on spaced repetition and also some discussions on my manual flashcard method vs. spaced repetition.

http://www.pleco.com/ipmanual/flash.html#cardselsettings

Card Selection - Spaced Repetition

http://plecoforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=614

Flashcards Simplified

http://plecoforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1513&p=10878

Re: V2 flash card question

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