Review: EnglishWords dictionary

englishwords-01Review: EnglishWords, by Intellibits
Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 7.0/10
Cost: $ 4.99
OTA installation: not available

In case you missed it, we told you last week about this great offer by Intellibits: a “mega package” with ALL of their 10 applications for $24.99 until the end of this month. I am taking the initiative to include this in the introduction of my review because Intellibits have made several applications that called my attention lately, but I didn’t realize they were made by the same company until just a few days ago. I felt like I was hitting a pretty modest but still exciting jackpot. Many interesting applications in one single place. I really recommend that you at least take a look at their catalog here in the BerryReview store or directly at their site. At least one of the applications is likely to interest you. The “Mega Pack” is available directly from Intellibits only.

I liked many of their applications, but today I am reviewing EnglishWords, an English dictionary. I was immediately attracted by the list of features:

  • 175,000+ words and explanations (I counted 175,683)
  • Lightning fast and easy access to all information
  • Powerful search by word prefix
  • No Internet / data connection is required
  • Data (14MB) can be installed on the device’s memory or the SD card
  • Works on all devices with OS 4.0 and newer
  • Free updates forever! (including new minor and major releases)

Overall, I liked EnglishWords, but found three nags in it. The first nag in my opinion is the lack of an OTA install. I am a Linux user and, even if I used Windows, I would rarely ever hook my Berry up to the PC. I find that a nuisance. The interaction between the Blackberry and the Windows OS running in VMware isn’t very good, so installation was a little bit painful to me.

After installation via Desktop Manager, you have to do something else: copy the dictionary data to the media card. You just connect the Blackberry to your PC in “pendrive mode” and drag and drop a folder with 26 text files to the “root directory” of your media card. That was simple and straightforward enough to me, but I think I have to play Devil’s advocate here and note that the application won’t work if that folder isn’t copied to the “root directory” of your media card (I tried), and I am quite sure that someone somewhere is going to find that confusing. Personally, I just wish I could keep ALL my folders in the root “Blackberry” folder, “EnglishWords” will be the one exception and exceptions result in messy arrangements in the long run. But most importantly, I am sure that someone is going to copy the folder to the wrong place and think that the application “is broken”. It would be better if EnglishWords were capable of finding its data folder anywhere in the folder structure.

If you’re paying attention, you should have realized by now that the lack of OTA makes a lot of sense in the case of EnglishWords since you need both the program and the 14 Mb data files. Downloading 14 Mb OTA is not a viable option to most Blackberry users. But I still think that the option to download just the program OTA would be good. Maybe I’m just stubborn.

Installation done, time to take it for a spin. EnglishWords looks like this:

englishwords-01 englishwords-01

It couldn’t be any simpler: just type in the word you want and press Enter or trackball. Or something analogous if you have a Blackberry Storm. You’ll get a list of results that can be clicked individually.

That’s what I consider my second nag, and the worst of them all by far. Many words have several meanings/definitions. They are usually provided separately. That means I have to click one, read it, then press the “Go Back” button, click the next one, read it, go back, rinse, repeat… cripes! That’s very ineffective. Why can’t I have all the definitions in one single click? One could argue that the first words of each definition, visible in the result list, are usually a good enough hint to which definition I am probably looking for. But it’s a dictionary! I use it to LEARN NEW WORDS. I definitely want to see all the definitions of a word that is new to me. In fact, why do I have to click a definition at all?!!! If I type in a word and it is found in the dictionary, don’t give me a list. Save me from the unnecessary clicks and show me all the relevant definitions right here already, in this very initial screen. What would be wrong with this idea? I hope nobody thought that someone who actually uses a dictionary DOESN’T WANT TO READ TOO MUCH. That would be ridiculous. The data is stored in the media card, this application does not have to access the Internet ever, and the Blackberry is very good at displaying lots of text on the screen. It even has a Web browser, I read very long articles in it. I really don’t see the point of breaking the results up the way EnglishWords does.

I ran into my third nag when I tried to look up another word: the only way to do that is roll the cursor up to the search field and delete each single letter of the previous query individually. There is no key shortcut to take you to that field at the top instantly in case you’re at the bottom of the current search results, and there is no automatic highlighting of the entire previous query to help you delete it in one single stroke. Absolutely dumb. That’s not how software is supposed to behave. Machines came to this world to do the tedious work for us, not the other way around.

Once past the nags, I am left with the task of evaluating the content of the dictionary. EnglishWords uses a public domain copy of the “1913 US Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary” available from the Gutenberg project. Of course, I have seen many better dictionaries than this on paper or on the desktop. This material is very far from being “unabridged”. But for something you will carry in your cell phone, it is a lot better than I expected. It is brief and 175,000 entries just about scratches the surface of the entire English lexicon, but I must say that EnglishWords has enough content to save you in most situations. It is a good although very compact English dictionary.

Conclusion: not everyone is interested in carrying a dictionary around, but if you ever have been, you’ve run out of excuses. EnglishWords is extremely cheap for the value it has to offer and it only takes 14 Mb of your media card. Who doesn’t have room for that? The application itself is under 20 Kb and that’s nothing. I am not very happy with the usability, but the content and usefulness is worth at least 20 bucks. Intellibits only wants 5.

Pros: it works as advertised, content is reasonably good and the application is dirty cheap.

Cons: usability is somewhat disappointing.

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