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Jun Heng Clinic

Most powerful portable Chi-Eng-Chi electronic dictionary (most number words/chars)

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Jun Heng Clinic

Hi people

I'm desparately looking for a really powerfull portable electronic dictionary (Chinese-English) as I have to do most of my work on the train and I am translating Chinese medicine texts from Chinese to English. Usually the only text that is good enough for me to use is the Shanghai JiaoTong University Publisher's massive two-volume text. (This dictionary boasts a collection of 11,000 single-character entries, under which are to be found some 220,000 multiplecharacter entries.)

But I just can't carry that around with me; the weight will damage my shoulders!

I do have a portable electronic dictionary (ECTACO's MD201), but this is really insufficient - mainly because it doesn't have enough characters.

Does anyone know of a really powerful machine that will do the job?

A secondary issue: it would be nice if it enabled one to search by simplified characters and if it allowed the following entry methods: pin-yin; drawing-input; stroke count. But I care most about the number of characters.

If what I am looking for does not exist then I might have to use Windows software and buy a notebook. Any recommendations for Windows software that would be powerful enough?

Many thanks for any advice!

David

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Nathaniel Brown

I'm fairly sure someone else would have recommended this eventually but the programing I'm planning using is Pleco http://www.pleco.com/products.html

If you get the Pro Version it has about 200,000 words in total?

It's only software so you'd need to buy a PDA but it looks like it's worth it.

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roddy

You might want to look at Kingsoft's 金山词霸 - according to this the 2005 edition, among others, includes a 7 volume set of Chinese to English medical dictionaries (do a 'find' for 医学 and look for the 汉英 list.) - edit - if I remember correctly you are dealing with Chinese medicine - the 汉英中医大词典 listed might also be useful.

金山词霸 is Window's software, but there may be an electronic dictionary with the same content. If not, this page makes reference to installing downloaded dictionaries onto an electronic dictionary - might be a lead worth following.

Alternatively, if you can get hold of the dictionary files somehow, you may be able to import them into Plecodict as user-defined entries. The ABC dictionary which Pleco uses is great, but it's hardly a medical dictionary.

Roddy

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Jun Heng Clinic

Hi Nathaniel and Roddy

Thank you for both your suggestions. I am currently investigating both; waiting for replies to emails from both companies.

I'll post my conculsions.

Thanks again.

David

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bewolff

saw an electronic dictionary called BBAUSA A99 is a stand alone deal which includes the pinyin for westerners. they never tell you how many words it has which leads me to believe it is not that many.

the Pleco softwre for a Palm or Windows Pocket PC is good software. I don't know about the most recent versions, but past versions allowed you to add dictionaries to the software. If you could track town a medical dictionary database out there, I suppose you could dump those words into the PDA

have emailed with them a couple of times. they seemed to be really helpful. you could probably email them and ask them about adding a medical dictionary database to the thing. they quite possibly might know where one is that you can add. The pleco also comes with a character recognition deal where your write in as best you can the character you are looking at, and it gives suggestions as to what it is. this is nice for translation purposes.

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griz326

I just purchased Pleco software for my Palm. I am very impressed. I do not know if you can get a medical dictionary for it.

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griz326

...Oh...I also used the BBK AM99 in China and purchased one for my ladyfriend there.

The dictionary allowed me to communicate with many people. The price is fair, is easy to carry, and has good battery life.

The Chinese speakers version of the dictionary requires that the user know pinyin.

I doubt it has a medical dictionary.

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Jun Heng Clinic

Hi People

Thank you for your comments. I've since done about 10 hours of research and have come up with a couple of great solutions for my problem. I haven't bought anything yet, but, in case you are interested, this is where I have got to ...

FIRST, my personal concern is NOT for a dictionary that deals with CHINESE MEDICINE as that is a minefield anyway since there is as yet no universally accepted standard English terminology in place for Chinese medicine (Wiseman's system is the only fully-glossed technical vocabulary for Chinese medicine and is in my view excellent, but there are still masses of people who don't use Wiseman's terms).

My personal concern is for a powerful dictionary that can help with translating CORE ACADEMIC CHINESE. I have found this to necessitate more characters than any electronic dictionary (that I have seen) provides. The only thing that I have found to work so far is my massive physical two-volume 'Han Ying Da Ci Dian', which breaks my back and is quite labour intensive (ploughing through the various indexes - you know what it's like!!)

Well, I have now come across two hardware-and-software combinations that SHOULD do the job and be VERY PORTABLE. One is in my view quite cheap (total hardware plus accessories plus software, approx GBP 600) and the other is rather expensive (total hardware plus accessories plus software, approx GBP 2,100).

SOLUTION 1 (CHEAP)

Buy a Palm T/X machine. The Palm operating system is of course reknowned for being very stable (compared to the bug-ridden Windows). The Palm T/X machine is widely reckoned to be the best Palm machine on the market currently - avoid the Palm LifeDrive as most online reviews are TERRIBLE!

Then load onto it PlecoDict for Palm OS. This gives a dictionary with approx 10,000 chars and 200,000 multi-character words. The interface and functions look really cool. (So far as I can tell it is the same as the PC-based Wenlin, but I haven't totally confirmed this yet). For me this setup would hopefully equate to my back-breaking two volume Han Ying Da Ci Dian and will translate most of my core academic vocabulary.

Then, for some occasional 'kick' with translating in-depth technical vocabulary, also download Kingsoft's PowerWord for Palm OS. Finding detailed technical information about the most recent version of this software has so far proven to be impossible. And so far KINGSOFT HAVE FAILED TO REPLY TO ANY OF MY EMAIL QUERIES!. However, there is some information online (though not a lot) about the PC version of the same software ("Kingsoft PowerWord 2006 Pro"); this boasts "over 960 million words from 150 internationally recognized Chinese-English Dictionaries plus professional vocabulary from more than twenty Natural and Social Sciences Dictionaries". There is no reference to the number of characters (just "words"), but I imagine this would be pretty large. My only fears about this software are that:-

(a) I cannot confirm which version of the software is available in the Palm platform (there seem to have been major differences between the various Windows PC versions, so this might be important);

(B) I cannot confirm the number of characters that either the Palm or Windows PC versions have;

© I cannot find a ANY real info about the Palm OS version at all - and the info that is available about the Windows PC version is very basic;

(d) as the software is accessing so many different dictionaries the interface and functions may lack 'joined up thinking'???

(e) Though many versions are listed for the Windows PC version, I am unsure which is the latest, 5.5 or 2006.

(f) KINGSOFT HAVE NOT REPLIED TO MY EMAILS!

Cost: The Palm T/X seems to retail in the UK around GBP 185. The accessories are very tempting, so I probably cannot resist. I calculate I will spend on hardware plus accessories plus software a total of GBP 600.

SOLUTION 2 (EXPENSIVE)

Buy the smallest full PC on the market, the OQO 01+. This is a wicked little machine that runs full Windows XP and can literally nestle into your palm! I have only read a small number of reviews so far, but what I have read is very good. Most people agree that it is a fabulous power-business-user machine, though weak in the multimedia area. This is perfect for me.

Then load onto it both Wenlin and PowerWord. To enable writing on the screen, I THINK I will have to buy the highest spec'd machine, ie the 'OQO model 01+ Ultra PC 30GB, XP Pro Tablet + Office' bundle, which enables screen-writing.

My only concern about this option is how readable Wenlin and PowerWord will be on the screen - but I imagine this can be tailored using Windows XP's functions? I am also assuming that it has 'instant-on' feature - or equivalent, ie when you want to use it you don't have to wait for the drive to operating system and software to load.

Cost: The above 'OQO model 01+ Ultra PC (30GB, XP Pro Tablet + Office' bundle costs in the UK (on Expansys website) GBP 1,675. I calculate that when I add hardware accessories and the Wenlin and PowerWord I will spend a total of around GBP 2,100. Of couse, that is rather expensive, but I will have a truly wicked little HANDHELD PC, that could be used for a heck of a lot more.

Any thoughts welcomed!!

Best regards, David

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roddy

Great write-up, thanks for coming back with that.

I had no idea there was a Powerword version for Palm. A quick search turns up download links, but when I finally got one to work I got a corrupt zip file. May try again later. Given that the file is only a few MB in size, I'm not expecting much.

My opinion is that you are better off going with a PDA - perhaps PPC if Powerword supports it better (or at all) than Palm - there is also a PPC version of Plecodict. Plecodict is a much nicer app to work with than Wenlin and as you are looking for something handheld, you're probably better off with a PDA (which is designed to be handheld) rather than a PC squeezed into a handheld format. Plus, the 1500 pounds you save will be more than adequate to get a normal sized laptop for the house ;-)

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gato

Kingsoft's not answering your email isn't surprising since Chinese universities often don't answer email inquiries. Don't believe there 1 billion word claim. I doubt that there are even 1 billion total words in the Chinese language. Most of those words are most repeats since they are counting 150 different dictionaries.

Wenlin and PlecoDict both use John DeFrancis's excellent ABC Dictionary, but their user interfaces are quite different from each other. Wenlin is more of a document reader, whereas PlecoDict is more of a dictionary (though they are adding a reader in the upcoming version).

What do you mean by academic Chinese? In which field? I read academic Chinese regularly in the social sciences area, and PlecoDict has served my needs very well.

I think getting a handheld PC simply to use Wenlin would be an overkill. Palm+PlecoDict should be enough and may be even better than PC+Wenlin because of PlecoDict's (currently) unique features (e.g. its integrated flashcard system).

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roddy

Just managed to get PowerWord for Palm from here. Now this is an unregistered version, and I'm not sure what registration would unlock, but from the read me

2. English-Chinese dictionary, upto 41549 English

words and phrases.

3. Chinese-English dictionary, upto 119930 Chinese

words and phrases.

Which isn't anywhere near the desktop version. Plus, I'm currently unable to figure out how to switch from . . . oh wait, I've got it, you need to enter Chinese and then it switches automatically.

No pinyin at all. Entries are very brief, with no grammatical or usage info given. Doesn't appear to be compatible with CJKOS input (no keyboard pop-up on double tap in input field) but Pen Power works.

Installed first time on my TX - transfer the databases across and you're away.

Has some of the idiosyncratic entries that Powerword users are familiar with, with "a brand from the burning", "the ass waggeth his ears" and "the great fisher of souls" all warranting their own spots. You can also see where a lot of Chinglish comes from when 我保证 is translated as 'by my troth' and 我不介意 is "for aught I care". Going to have to stop reading these now or I'll be here all night.

Very frequent 'Do you want to register' boxes every few searches, but apart from that it seems pretty fuctional. Assume it doesn't stop you using it after x days of unregistered use, not a bad dictionary for free :mrgreen: No idea if registration might unlock other stuff.

Tell you what I'd do. Get a smartphone which can run Plecodict, or PDA + bluetooth phone combination, so that you can get online whereever you are. That'll give you Plecodict and fairly easy access to Powerword Online (plus of course the rest of the net) when you need it.

Roddy

PS Ok, just one more - 我这样做符合议程规定吗?= "Am I in order" . . .

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Jun Heng Clinic

Hi Roddy and Gato. Thanks for more things to follow up on there!

I take on board your points that Palm might have better functionality.

I am also looking at other small PCs (tablets) like 'Samsung Q1 Ultra Mobile PC' and 'UBiQUiO 701 Ulta Mobile Tablet PC'. Half the price of the OQO 01+.

But I may well end up taking the Palm T/X with PlecoDict and try to get PowerWord up and running in some fashion as well.

Thanks again.

I'll update you.

All the best, David

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griz326

Not really a comment on the hardware, but rather the practicality. I've used the Sony equivalent. The keyboard is difficult to use and the screen size tries to cram all sorts of stuff into a screen not much bigger than the TX. Add to that you get inadequate RAM to run XP and only a tiny hard drive.

There are certainly benefits to it, but the TX with a folding keyboard is probably a better choice.

If you can wait a few revs, maybe the technology will improve.

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Jun Heng Clinic

Hi griz326, Roddy and others

Thank you, griz326, for your warning about the OQO 01+. My research has already knocked this one on the head. I read a damning review that thoroughly turned me against it. It also seems that the screen quality is really poor (as well as too small to really use).

I can't get a Palm TX becaus it does not work with Windows 98SE on your desktop (only Windows 2000 or Windows XP!) and, for bizarre political reasons involving my wife (!), I cannot upgrade the home PC's OS! This electronic dictionary thing has to be a 'low profile' purchase ;)

I am now down to two options, with very different price tags.

1. LOW END. An older model of Palm (that allows Windows 98SE on the desktop - I don't yet know which model would do this) with PlecoDict. The hardware plus all accessories plus PlecoDict should cost about GBP 500. Quite a cheap option that will do the job. On top of that it will do basic personal organizer stuff too.

2. HIGH END. A Samsung NT-Q1-SSD UMPC loaded with 'Windows XP Tablet PC Edition' and Wenlin. This machine is between the average tablet and a handheld in size and has a screen size of 7" diagonal. Therefore it CAN be held in one hand while writing in a book on your lap on the train - essential for me. I like the idea of a machine that you can hold in one hand, but is somewhat larger than the somewhat limited typical handheld size. The hardware plus all accessories plus Wenlin should cost about GBP 2,000. Okay this is big money, but the added value might make it worth the extra expense ...

The NT-Q1-SSD is essentially a small tablet. My setup will include an extended battery, a battery bank and some sort of portable external DVD/CD-ROM drive (haven't worked out which model yet) along with a case and portable keyboard.

The tablet and keyboard both fit together in the case, which can be opened and used like a laptop if you've got the space - or you can leave the case in your bag on the floor, detach the tablet and hold it in one hand while also balancing a Chinese-language book on your lap and translating and making notes in the margin of said book. Just what I need when working on the train. Also the 32GB SSD hard drive and 512MB RAM and oodles of ports will enable me do lots of other multimedia, games and business related tasks.

Roddy, I know you said that PlecoDict is easier to work with than Wenlin, but I've read through the write-ups/manuals for both and feel at the moment that I could work with Wenlin okay. I also like the look of its "full-featured text editor", illustration of etymological development of all characters, its animated stroke-by-stroke display of the formation of all characters, a stroke (only) index as well as radical+stroke index (I'm not a great fan of radicals), and its facility for copy-pasting large amounts of text and then being able to just point to various words and see their definitions below. I don't think PlecoDict has these fieatures. However, if you can sway me in this, please try :)

In either of the above two solutions, I will try to add the latest version of PowerWord if I can. Of course, Roddy's investigations (described above) indicate that the Palm version of PowerWord is disappointing. We are hoping that the full Windows version is what it is touted to be (ie enormous!). This again would make the NT-Q1-SSD more attractive than the Palm machine.

CONCLUSION SO FAR: I'm tempted to go with the Samsung NT-Q1-SSD UMPC plus Wenlin option at the moment. I just have to resolve three issues:-

1. Power up time. This is obviously going to slower with the Samsung. (I assume the Palms are pretty much instant?) Some reviews quote over 1 minute for the Samsung Q1. But other reviewers say you can dramatically reduce this by disabling certain applications (and I will have little use for Wi-FI or bluetooth and various apps I'm sure). Also the Samsung NT-Q1-SSD that I am looking at (with a solid state hard drive) is 25-50% faster than the Q1. It's difficult to find 'startup time' data on the NT-Q1-SSD as there are no reviews online yet becuase it's only just been released, but I'm hoping I can get startup time down to a few seconds if I strip it down somewhat. Also, I will have the extended battery and power bank, so I can afford to leave it on while working if I want.

2. Screen size. I've never used a tablet and I don't know whether it manages to increase the size of text. I'm worried that I might not be able to see the Wenlin screens clearly enough.

3. Flashcards. Wenlin only allows single-character flashcards, whereas I believe PlecoDict allows multiple-character flashcards. However, according to the Wenlin website there are work-around solutions for this within Wenlin.

STOP PRESS. I sent an email to Wenlin asking them about the screen size issue; I also asked them to compare their product with PlecoDict. I have just received a reply! ...

--------------------------

Dear David,

Wenlin has a "Size" menu, which enables you to make the text about

twice as large as the size I normally use on my notebook computer, so

I think it should be legible even on a seven-inch screen, though I

have not heard any reports about legibility from people using Wenlin

on a tablet PC. Certainly it ought to be more legible than a Palm

computer.

Besides dictionary look-up, Wenlin provides the ability to read and

write Chinese text files, and many other features for studying

vocabulary, such as showing how to write a character stroke-by-

stroke, and listing all the words that contain a given character, or

all the characters that contain a given component. As far as I know,

Pleco doesn't have those capabilities.

You're welcome to try the free demo version of Wenlin, which can be

downloaded from our website. Please let me know if you have any more

questions.

Best wishes,

Tom Bishop

-------------------------

Thank you Tom! In my experience it's not often that distributor websites reply to questions.

Thumbs up to Wenlin, I say!

I slip further down the bank towards parting with 2,000 squid!

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gato

A lower-end used Palm should cost around US$50 on eBay. Maybe you can get a member who lives near you to demo it for you.

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griz326

Bleeding edge technology is risky business. ...been there, done that, got dozens of T-shirts to prove it. :roll:

Even though Samsung eliminated the hard drive, battery life is woefully short - 5 hours in the reviews I've read.

Be absolutely certain that the Tablet Edition of XP is not XP-CE. By that I mean that the OS is a standalone OS and does not require a real PC with a real OS. I read a post in another forum from a XP-Tablet user that left me unsure of this critical piece of information.

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Jun Heng Clinic

Hi griz326

Thank you for your thoughts.

Yes, from what I have read I am convinced that the Samsung NT-Q1-SSD is true Windows XP.

When you said 5 hours, did you mean the standard battery, extended battery or the battery bank? I could not find a single review of the NT-Q1-SSD, though I spent a couple of hours searching. (I could only find reviews of the earlier Q1.) Everyone wrote about the NT-Q1-SSD's release and what Samsung were predicting, but nobody seems to have actually bought one and written a review on it. Maybe because it's too expensive :) - or maybe because it has just been released. If you have the time to reply, I'd love to know where you read that review.

Many thanks for your help.

All the best, David

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Jun Heng Clinic

Hi griz326

Thank you for the reference. Actually I have already read that one; it's the Q1 (with a spinning hard drive), not the NT-Q1-SSD (solid state disk).

The 2.5 hours is for the smallest battery. Some commentators say you can increase the time substantially by closing down unwanted programs. Also the SSD results in less power consumed, so I'm hoping that I can get at least 10 hours out of the SSD with power bank.

Still it would be nice to read a review of the SSD - someone on this planet must have bought it!! :)

Cu. David

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griz326

...I did not notice the difference in the models....

I'll look further for that link...but 5.5 hours battery life is inadequate. I'll post when I find the link again.......

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