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|The IBM 1999 World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia, Family Reference Suite, is a suitable for students, parents, and teachers who want the most powerful and robust reference. It is an all-in-one reference product (a combination encyclopedia, reference library and almanac), with easy-to-use search features; extensive online functions; a collection of integrated multimedia features; Homework Wizard learning and organization tools; an array of additional research tools; and ViaVoice Gold continuous speech-recognition technology which lets users dictate notes using a microphone. The program comes on three CDs. IBM has expanded the World Book product line and it now includes: 1999 World Book (without extensive multimedia features or functions); the 1999 World Book Deluxe Edition (includes multimedia features and learning tools), the 1999 World Book Deluxe Macintosh Edition (includes same as PC Deluxe Edition), and the 1999 World Book Family Reference Suite (only one that includes Merrian Webster Reference Library, 3 almanacs, and the ViaVoice technology). The products range from $39.95 to $99.95. The World Book Web site is: http://www.worldbook.com|
|Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced PC users and children ages 13 and older. Articles are written with the probable age of the reader in mind. For example, the introductory text on cats is written for younger readers. Mature topics such as the history of Europe would be written in a more sophisticated and in-depth style. As a result, the articles in the encyclopedia are written and presented in a way that is both interesting and easily understood by the age group most likely to research them.|
Installation. The program is not difficult to install but it does take some time. It also takes a lot of hard drive space, but you have a variety of installation options. It is important to know what your computer will take before you install and have to choose an option. Also if you plan to use the ViaVoice Gold speech recognition technology, prepare for more time to set up the microphone and train the program to recognize your voice. Again, it is not difficult but I have a setup that made it hard to get behind the computer to plug in the microphone and I had it in the wrong jack. After moving a variety of peripherials so I could move the computer case to see what I was plugging the microphone into, there was no problem. There is a step-by-step training module accessed from the Windows Start menu.
User Guide. The guide is small but does give in-depth explanations of the program's various functions. It goes into detail for the ViaVoice capabilities and the Homework Wizards.
Interface. When you start World Book, your see the Main Menu entry screen. You use this menu to get to articles, media, the dictionary, or online. Once inside a section, you can still easily go from one feature or function to another using the Control Panel, discussed below, that is always available.
Once you enter a section, the interface is mainly the same throughout. There is a Menu Bar across the top of the screen with the usual Window choices: File, Edit, Tools, Online, and Help. Below that is a Control Panel that consists of eleven options displayed in two groups. To the left of the screen are major tools and functions: Tool Kit, Search and Dictionary; to the right are navigation controls: Back, Main Menu, Article, Just Looking, Around the World, Time Frame, What's Online, and Stop. The Menu Bar and Control Panel are always available within World Book, making it easy to find options and move between features and functions. The middle of the screen is where articles appear and to the left is where the search and/or dictionary windows will open. The small search window can be moved and closed if you need more space. The interface is very clean, easy to use and intuitive.
Search Features. You have multiple search features.
Homework Wizards. Help wizards assemble text and media into polished reports. There are five wizards:
Maps. There are a variety of maps. The overlays feature allows you to view locator maps, thematic maps, and legends. You can choose the following layouts: political, population density, average January temperatures, average July temperatures, average yearly precipitation, agriculture and fishing, mining and manufacturing, terrain, and economy. There is also a Distance Calculator that allows you to find the distance between any two points on earth. You just rotate the globe to any position you; then choose two locations and the Calculator will determine how far apart they are. When locations are set, they are marked on the globe and flat map and a line linking the locations appears on the flat map.
Online Features. World Book has up-to-date information on the Web.
Cyber Safari. This is an extensive multimedia tour of the San Diego Zoo. In Cyber Safari there are stories, sounds, 360-degree views, fun facts, videos and more that give you an up-close experience of some habitats and the animals that live in the San Diego Zoo.
Merriam-Webster Reference Library and Information Please Almanacs. The Reference Library combines dictionary, thesaurus and spelling tools into one easy-to-use research aid. It comprises the Merrian-Webster Biographical Dictionary, Collegiate Dictionalry, Collegiate Thesaurus, Encyclopedia of Literature, Intermediate Dictionary, Medical Dictionary and QuickSpell. The Information Please Almanacs gives you information on general topics, sports, and entertainment. It is more convenient to have all of this information in one program.
IBM Via Voice Speech Technology. You can navigate the Encyclopedia with your voice, dictate text in the Encyclopedia's study and research features, and have text read to you. This is a fun feature to play with. It took some time to set up but it was not difficult.
|This is a great package that is useful for the whole family. The material is presented in a clear and direct style. The interface is easy enough for younger childern. The Cyber Safari is a wonder for any age. The 360-degree Photo Bubble views are intriging and very well done. The additional Merrian-Webster Reference Library is too good to be true and would be very welcome to college age students, parents, and students. And the Homework Wizards make you want to be a kid again so you have an excuse to use them. This would be a perfect gift for someone. Even if you already have another encyclopedia program, this would be a good investment.|
|Processor: 486DX/66MHz or higher
Operating System: Windows 95/98/NT 4.0
Memory: 16 MB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 39 MB
SVGA monitor 640x480, high-color (16 bit)
16-bit sound card
Double-speed CD-ROM Drive
Hard Disk Space: 8 MB additional hard disk space
For ViaVoice Gold speech-recognition features
Processor: 150MHz Pentium with MMX technology/166MHz Pentium w/o MMX technology
Hard Disk Space: 50 MB additional hard disk space
Memory: 32 MB RAM