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Tuna

Pleco - worth paying for basic/pro add-on bundles?

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Tuna

I've been using the free version of Pleco on my iPhone and I've been wondering if I should pay $35/$70 to upgrade to the basic/professional bundles. I'm an upper intermediate level student of Chinese heritage.

How well does the flashcard app work? I already own a different flashcard app (Flashcards Deluxe).

Stroke order diagrams would be useful occasionally...but I could just as easily find them online for free. Document reader and audio pronunciation would not be useful for me either.

How are the dictionaries (NWP, ABC, 21st Century)? are they much different from the free ones? are they worth paying $35/$70 for?

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feihong

I paid for the reader, flashcard, handwriting recognition, and Chinese-Chinese dictionary modules. Here is the breakdown of what I found useful about each one:

Reader: By far the most worthwhile paid add-on. It is so much easier reading difficult texts when you can click on any character and get a popup of its pronunciation and gloss.

Flashcard: Second most useful, because it works so well in conjunction with the reader. You can instantly add any new characters/words into Pleco's flashcard database while reading a text. I almost never review my flashcards in Pleco itself, but doing it this way is so much easier than making flashcards by hand. I actually export them to Anki, which is my main flashcard application. I do occasionally do some reviews before exporting to Anki, and I have found it to be a competent flashcard program.

Handwriting recognition: Apple's iOS already includes handwriting recognition, why on earth did I buy this? Well, it seems to recognize characters faster than the system recognizer, it is more forgiving of sloppy input, plus it can recognize simplified and traditional characters at the same time. I read material in both character sets, so not having to switch between system recognizers is a big boon. If you are able to successfully use this module, then you essentially don't need the stroke order diagrams module.

Chinese-Chinese dictionary: Useful for very advanced learners, of questionable usefulness for everyone else. I still am not comfortable using this all the time. And it doesn't have as good coverage as the free Chinese-English dictionaries (built-in, CEDICT, ADSO). But it is still fairly useful, if only because I feel it's more definitive and it has a fair number of examples. Sometimes, different dictionaries give slightly different definitions of a given word. If that happens, I always go with the definition that skews closest to the one in the Chinese-Chinese dictionary. I do hope that I eventually use this more often than the other dictionaries.

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roddy

Flashcard app is excellent. The number of different options may be overwhelming, but once you get is set up, and you're able to add cards with the dictionary definition at a single tap, it's worth it.

The dictionaries - well, depends what you need. But I doubt the free ones have anything in the way of usage notes and example sentences.

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gato

The stroke order diagram add-on allows you to search for characters that have other characters as a component. That's pretty neat.

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Shelley

Hello,

I used the free version for a while, but I upgraded to the basic pack. I have found it brilliant. All the extras are worth the money. You could get the basic version and if you find that you are not finding all the characters with the included dictionary you can always add more dictionaries later.

The character recognition is very useful.and it gives you more testing options. I think it is well worth the money.

Good luck, Shelley

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Sarevok

I already shelled out around $200 for Pleco - I purchased the professional package first (which comes with the excellent ABC Chinese-English dictionary) and then paid another hundred for additional dictionaries as they became available. I've been using this software for more than 4 years now and I consider all that money well spent. And I am willing to spend more for those new dictionaries which are to be released later this year. I am not using the reader very often - I still prefer print books to e-books. But it's there for times when a print version is out of reach (as Chinese e-books are readily available). I use the flashcard system on daily basis - well, that's what you have to do if you go down the SRS route. It took some time to figure it all out because the whole system is quite complex, but I prefer this to Anki, because it can be carried around...

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sheridan

I'll echo everyone's experiences with purchasing all the add-ons and most of the dictionaries in Pleco. They turn Pleco from a wonderful, free dictionary application into a very powerful suite of tools for deeply, quickly, and efficiently learning and using Chinese.

With all this can do now on my iPod Touch, this is my most-used app by far. There is so much versatility, functionality, and customizability (?) that makes it an excellent investment of funds and time.

In defense of the handwriting recognition add-on, I find this very helpful and much more accurate and forgiving than Apple's handwriting recognition module. And, since the iPod Touch cannot benefit from the OCR on Pleco, the handwriting input comes in very handy, multiple times in the day.

If you can afford to pay for all the add-ons (handwriting, stroke order, audio pronunciation, flashcards [an exceptional feature], and reader), I would highly recommend doing so. As for the dictionaries, as others have said, it depends on how much you need them. I do not regret purchasing the ABC CE/EC, and yet, I still find I rely on the native (and free) Pleco dictionary more than others. I will add here that I would recommend purchasing one of the E-C dictionaries, as having the pīnyīn show in the search results if very helpful.

In sum, as you really explore and use Pleco, you will be grateful for the money you have spent. It is excellent.

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hanxue

A couple of months ago I bought iPhone 4 and Pleco was among the first apps I downloaded! I bought the Complete Bundle with educational discount (about 30% off the original price of $149.95) and consider every single cent of it well spent. As a Sinology student on advanced level of Chinese, I use it on almost daily basis and would consider Pleco to be arguably among the best, if not the best electronic Chinese dictionaries out right now. On top of that, it offers excellent customer support and continual improvements, which means it will only get better and better. Highly recommended!

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imron

Agree. I bought the professional bundle of Pleco 1.0 for Palm several years ago for $100, followed by the Chinese-Chinese dictionary for $60 when it came out for Pleco 2.0. Besides that extra dictionary, every other upgrade has been free (including the move from Palm to iPhone - with almost all features included), and I consider it $160 well spent.

For me, hands down the best feature is the Chinese-Chinese dictionary. I would recommend people get started using Chinese-Chinese dictionaries as soon as they are able. It takes a bit of effort to get used to initially, but the payoff is definitely worth it. I've found Guifan to be a really good dictionary, especially when it comes to pointing out differences between similar words and for pointing out incorrect pronunciations of certain characters.

Second best feature is the flashcards. I don't really use the SRS function, but I do like to keep track of words I've looked up for manual revision at a later stage, and single-click to create a card with the word, definition, pronunciation, audio etc (plus any combinations thereof), can't be beat. One of the thing that annoyed me about Anki when I tried using that a while back was the amount of time and effort required just to enter cards (not interested in pre-built decks as I usually only like to learn words that I've come across in some other context). With Pleco, you avoid this problem entirely - although the tradeoff is you don't have quite as much freedom and flexibility in creating the cards, but I don't need to create anything too complex and the options Pleco offers are more than enough for me in this regard.

The other features I only use here and there, but are nice to have on the odd occasion that I find I want to use them.

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Tuna

Thanks for all the responses. I ended up buying the basic bundle and I love it.

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The World of Chinese

Since this topic is here, I'll add on a question: is it still worth it if you have an older iPhone? I have a regular 3G (old, and about to be ancient by tech standards when the new models come out this June). Does Pleco function quickly and properly on a phone this old? I've found some other newer apps really lag on it. Is it worth bothering with the advanced Pleco stuff now or should I wait until I (inevitably eventually) upgrade to a newer iPhone?

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gato

You can always download the free Pleco app and try it out on your 3G.

Note that a new upgrade with a still mode for OCR just came out. OCR might work better on the iPhone 3G now.

http://www.pleco.com/ipmanual/vershist.html

Greatly improved support for recognizing text in still images, and thanks to this extended OCR support to iPads and 3G/4G iPod Touches. The new still image recognition system works in three different modes:

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imron

I run Pleco on an original iPhone. It's fast enough for lookups - probably the most annoying thing is the initial load time (4-5 seconds).

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wedge
I prefer this to Anki, because it can be carried around

FYI, there's an Anki app for iPhone now and it syncs almost seamlessly with the desktop program. I have both Anki and Pleco for iPhone and while I love Pleco, I still prefer Anki's flashcard functionality.

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roddy

Is that Ankimobile? I was looking for a general flashcard app today and saw it, but it's not cheap at (on the UK store) 15 quid - that's $20-plus. Considering the Pleco basic bundle costs $50 . . .

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tyrael

@feihong

I would like to get in contact with you, because I really want to know how you export the Pleco flashcards to Anki. Unfortunately I am not able to use the PM system, because I just registrered. Any chance you could explain it in this topic?

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Demonic_Duck
Is that Ankimobile? I was looking for a general flashcard app today and saw it, but it's not cheap at (on the UK store) 15 quid - that's $20-plus. Considering the Pleco basic bundle costs $50 . . .

I don't know if it's from a third party developer, but ankidroid is free, isn't there an iPhone equivalent?

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feihong

@tyrael

I actually don't completely remember how to do it anymore because it's been months since I've done it. I actually don't even recommend it anymore because I think Pleco's flashcard system is better than Anki's (for Chinese, anyway).

I believe the procedure is: flashcards -> export cards -> export cards -> begin export. On the export screen, make sure to choose text file for file format, utf-8 for text encoding, both for character set. Choose a name like "flashcards.txt". Then go into file manager on the export cards screen, click edit, choose "flashcards.txt", then click email. Fill out the email form to email the file to yourself. When you receive the email the text file is attached. However, you have to make some changes to the file for Anki to accept it, and that's where memory fails me a bit. I think I had to run a small Python script to fix the formatting before I could import the file into Anki. If you have any issues with this procedure, feel free to PM me (once you are able to).

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fabiothebest

I have an android phone. I already had Pleco Basic Bundle and I purchased "ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary - $19.95" just now. It says it's Chinese - English and contains over 197000 entries. I see that there is also this package available: "ABC English-Chinese Dictionary - $9.95". There's written that this is English-Chinese and contains about 18000 entries. So should I buy it or I don't need it since I already purchased "ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary"? I see that the one I already purchased contains many more entries. Does it matter if they write "Chinese-English" or "English-Chinese"? I mean, with the dictionary I currently have, can I look up words in both directions?

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