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roddy

Electronic Dictionaries

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Dermot

I'd recommend Ectaco ( http://www.ectaco.com/ ) which have a very good range including support for Palm & Pocket PC.

I've got a good dictionary running on a HP i-paq. Let's you look up using strokes or pin yin, English -> Chinese -> English.

They also do their own hand held range.

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PollyWaffle
I'd recommend Ectaco

their dictionaries are chinese made (not great qual) & are a fraction of the price in china... eg. i paid about Y1500 from ectaco & the same dictionary is in china for Y500...

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madizi

I had Besta disctionary, but, unfortunately, I've lost it. :( It's main feature was writing character with special pen on screen. And then special software recognized character. So I recommend to Roddy Besta dictionary.

For PC, I recommend Jinshan ciba.

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perjp

Check out Pleco (www.pleco.com), and try out PlecoDict. It runs on Palm OS, so it requires that you have or plan to buy one (you'll need one with an expansion slot for memory cards as the dictionaries take up a lot of space.

PlecoDict is the successor to the Oxford Palm dictionary mentioned in this thread, but it has the ABC Comprehensive dictionary and the Pinyin Chinese-English (by the Commercial Press, I think, it's one of the few

dictionaries with pinyin that can be bought in China). This boils down to much better dictionaries than any of the dedicated electronic dictionaries I have seen in China. There's no Chinese-Chinese dictionary available, but that might change in the future.

If you want to get a dedicated electronic dicionary, your best bet is probably to go with Besta (好易通). You'll need to get one of the more expensive models in order to get a decent sized dictionary. Be very careful to check how large dictionaries are included as this varies wildly between models. Last time I checked the models with a pen for handwriting had much smaller dictionaries than the corresponding models without handwriting input.

My main gripe with Besta is that it's rather mafan to see the pinyin for a Chinese-English entry. Pinyin input is also rather clumsy, you have to enter one character at a time (with tone) rather than a complete word (something which holds true for all electronic dictionaries available in China).

A good Besta model will probably set you back upwards of 1500 RMB, so I'd seriously consider putting down the extra cash needed for a more flexible Palm OS option (there's apparantly a Pocket PC version of PlecoDict on the way as well, if you prefer Pocket PC).

If you want a really awsome standalone electronic dictionary, you'll need to learn Japanese first... I've been playing around with the Japanese-Chinese electronic wonders my Japanese classmates have, and they are vastly superior to anything available in China.

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sunyata

doumeizhen > could you please give me the address of he BESTA shop in Chinese? Or does anyone else know where they sell Besta dictionaries in Beijing?

Thanks in advance...

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runner

Hmm. Hopefully we can get some new input.

The best I have found in my little corner of China is something called 步步高,but don't ask me the model number. It's selling for 798 kuai and has a larger than average screen (and hence characters). It contains:

英漢大辭典 from 上海譯文 ABRIDGED (100,000 words)

郎文十萬詞詞典 (Um, 100,000 words, eh; very good for high tech words)

新華字典 (or something like that)

Contemporary Chinese Dictionary (both C-C and C-E, but they are separate; that's somewhere under 70,000 words)

And some others.

Obviously this is great for E-C (no more NWP crapola dict. with only 23,000 words and missing so much), adequate for Chinese in general (especially for native Chinese speakers), but is pretty mediocre for C-E. One could get by with that, but I know of 6 or 7 larger C-E dicts. There must be someone using something better, no?

What have you seen?

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perjp

Is it this dictionary: http://www.eebbk.com/cpcc/5988.htm ???

I have a cheaper version of this one, 3289. It's about 500 kuai, is missing one dictionary and has less memory (for downloading extra dictionaries).

I find the Chinese-English version of the 现代汉语词典 quite nice. The English and Chinese parts are separate, and you can switch between viewing English and Chinese for any entry with a single button push. I believe this functionality is the same for all models that contain this dictionary (I checked quite a few, but opted for the cheapest option).

The 新华字典 is downloadable (their dictionaries come with data cables, you should get the salesperson to give you one for free) mine is serial port only which is a pain (a USB adapter will set you back another 30-40 kuai). This comes without the radical and difficult character table.

Be aware that there's a bug in the pinyin input on most 步步高 models. The function when the next character is suggested doesn't work properly (that's when typing 中 will get you a list of 国华间学 etc.). There's a workaround, but it's quite annoying.

The biggest gripe I have with the 步步高 dictionaries is that they contain no radical input whatsoever, only pinyin input and wubi. So if you can't pronounce a character and don't know wubi, their dictionaries are useless.

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runner

Thanks, perjp. I don't know if that's the model I looked at. The one I looked at has those three dicts and some others, including the ones I listed in my original post. Also, I think it's black on the inside. When it's closed the cover is silver (I think) and has some calligraphy on the top.

As for this problem of input, you mean it gives you the choices but doesn't let you choose or doesn't even give you the choices?

According to their website, the download cable is included with the 3289 and all the other models I checked, so you shouldn't need to ask the salesperson for it?

I'm going to look at the 3289 now since it's cheaper and the Shanghai Yiwen is all I need for E-C and it seems that Contemporary is the best they offer for C-E. I've been to half a dozen or more stores now looking at these things. Only one store seems to know what the hell they carry. The other places don't even know what publisher's dict they carry. I guess this is why many of my students have such crappy elec. E-C dicts, they think there is just one dictionary in the world or something. The store staff think it's bizarre that I should care which dictionary it has.

Thanks for telling me you can toggle between English and Chinese. I had specifically mentioned to the salewoman that it would be nice to have them together as in the paper version, and she said nothing.

Has anyone found anything better than Bubu Gao? :help

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perjp
Thanks, perjp. I don't know if that's the model I looked at. The one I looked at has those three dicts and some others, including the ones I listed in my original post. Also, I think it's black on the inside. When it's closed the cover is silver (I think) and has some calligraphy on the top.

That sounds like the 5988 model, it has calligraphy on the cover.

As for this problem of input, you mean it gives you the choices but doesn't let you choose or doesn't even give you the choices?

When you first start the dictionary, it gives a list of very common characters that can be selected via the number buttons without entering the pinyin (such as 一不还 etc.). If you enter a character normally, such as 中 it's supposed to give a list of common completion characters (i.e. 国华间 etc.), but instead gives the list of common characters.

The bug can be avoided by pressing 1 and backspace right after starting the dictionary (i.e pressing the 中英 button). Kinda annoying, but at least it works.

According to their website, the download cable is included with the 3289 and all the other models I checked, so you shouldn't need to ask the salesperson for it?

Hmm, my cable came in a separate box, so you'd better check.

Has anyone found anything better than Bubu Gao?

It may be possible to find other brands that have the same C-E dictionary, but it'll probably be hard to find. Most dictionaries I've seen for 500 or less usually have very crappy dictionaries, and are completely useless for people studying Chinese. So for the price, I think Bubugao is best.

If you have a lot of money to spend, one of the top line Besta models is probably the best bet. They have their own set of quirks though, such as always having to enter the tone for all syllables, and no pinyin for the headwords in the Chinese-Chinese dictionary.

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runner

What C-E does Besta have? Better/bigger than Contemporary?

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perjp

I think the Chinese-Chinese section is usually the same Contemporary Chinese, without the English translation. The C-E will most likely vary between the different models. Now that you mention it, you might not find a bigger C-E than the Contemporary one, as these dictionaries tend to focus more on a bigger E-C dictionary...

The big selling point of the Bubugao dictionary is the fact that C-C and C-E have exactly the same contents, so that you will always find a compound in both sections, and it's easy to change between the two. The minus is as I mentioned no radical input, and somewhat buggy input.

If you're willing to spend more money and time looking at Besta models you might find one superior to the Bubugao, but then again maybe not. The top line models seem to have both good dictionaries and pen input...

I don't know anything about your Chinese level, but for me the lack of any way to look up characters I don't know the pronounciation became a problem very quickly. In other words, I need another backup dictionary.

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runner

Thanks. It would certainly be nice to have some sort of character look up, even Chinese need this sometimes, but more important to me is to have a C-E at least as big as Contemporary.

What's Besta's web address?

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ti99er22

Hiya.

I have a Besta-75 (bought in Toronto last Summer) and it accepts stylus input, but there are 3 things that I don't like about it.

First of all, use of the stylus to input Chinese is limited. It does not see e.g. the word with 3 'stone' characters.

Secondly, the Cantonese audio voice is too 'computerized' and is difficult to make out sometimes, especially on the 'tone', but is better than no Cantonese audio at all.

Thirdly, it would help tremendously if it had Yale Romanisation as well, so that I can be more confident on how a word is pronounced, but they don't, and that is a major drawback for me using this translator. If it had a more 'live' voice for audio, then this wouldn't be too much of an issue, but the computer-like voice really does not help matters.

Other than the above, I find this translator very useable.

- It has loads of idioms, which I found very useful,

- for Chinese input, the use of the stylus is a lot quicker to use than using radicals,

- and as I mentioned already, even a computerized Cantonese voice is better than none at all.

On an aside, if anyone knows of the existence of an electronic translator from English to Chinese (preference is Cantonese audio) and visa versa, which also has Yale with a more 'life-like' voice, then please let me know!! If it exists for the pda, then even better! (I have a Tungsten E).

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sunyata

I recently bought 好易通 (Besta) 9300...overall I am satisfied with it. It's fairly easy to use and the dictionaries provided aren't bad.

The main shortcoming is that the C-E and C-C are not the same, so sometimes you cannot find a direct English translation of a word, although you can find it in the C-C dictionary and sometimes vice versa.

Still looking for a better dictionary though...I want more complete dictionaries, but it seems almost impossible to find. Each model of each make has something that makes it unworthy of buying.

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roddy

I eventually (after about a year of 'Oooooh, really must buy an electronic dictionary') got hold of a PDA and Plecodict, and I'm very happy with it. I'm not sure exactly what functionality the electronic dictionaries have, but with my PDA the dictionary integrates seamlessly with webpages / documents (select, swipe and tap to view the definition of a Chinese word), gives me the full ABC dictionary and has a flashcard function I'm finding very useful.

Plus excellent hand-writing recognition, large bright hi-res screen (all the dedicated electronic dictionaries I've seen are shades of grey) and the whole books / music on the move PDA package - Definitely been one of my wiser purchases, and I get a massive amount of use out of it. What I would dearly love is a quality Chinese-Chinese dictionary running on the Plecodict engine - it felt like a bit of a step backwards going to a Chinese-English dictionary. However, I coped 8)

I'm planning to do a 'Why you need a PDA to learn Chinese' write-up at some point, but I'm waiting for the final final version of Plecodict to come out.

Roddy

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nubix

I just love using Plecodict on my Palm. Prior to using PlecoDict I used the Oxford Dictionary from Pleco.

I rarely use my hard-copy dictionaries now and the handwriting recognition is invaluable for me (as I am a novice at Mandarin). I use the software every day as it is so quick to use and the incorporation of the additional dictionaries makes up for the deficiencies in a single dictionary.

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sunyata

I see...glad that you are satisfied with it.

could I ask you which palm model you bought and for how much?

also, how much did the plectodict ABC dictionary cost you?

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roddy

I run it on the much more powerful than I need Palm T5. I got a friend to bring it back from abroad just after it was released, and I can't remember exactly how much it cost me but it was north of 3000Y after converting to RMB. I could quite easily have managed with something much less powerful, and the T5 doesn't have wi-fi, which is irritating in an allegedly top of the range model. It works great, but when Plecodict for Pocket PC comes out I may find myself looking at other options.

A note on buying PDAs abroad - bear in mind you won't get Chinese handwriting software bundled with it.

Plecodict pricing depends on which dictionary options you get. I got the ABC/NWP bundle, but I only really use the ABC - perhaps indicative of the fact that I tend to read more than write, and therefore use the Chinese-English almost exclusively. Plecodict Pricing

Roddy

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