BDicty Pro English Dictionary v5.2 for PalmOS

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: Beiks LLC, go to the web site
Requires: Palm OS 3.5 or higher
MSRP: $25.00 (BDicty Pro reader plus English Pro lexicon)

The quest for the perfect portable digital dictionary continues. The surging and already pervasive presence of PalmOS and Pocket PC devices has only complicated matters, what with software makers adding even more dictionary software to the market. There are straightforward criteria for determining which dictionaries are best, with the two most desirable traits being a massive, accurate database and fast operation.

BDicty (pronounced "bee-diktee") is a well-known and highly regarded entry from Beiks LLC. The company has been creating PalmOS and WinCE/Pocket PC software since 1999 and has developed an excellent reputation. Beiks is co-located in Dallas, Texas and Sofia, Bulgaria.

Beiks offers a large number of uni- and bi-directional lexicons (dictionary databases) for almost two dozen languages (in other words, dictionaries for English-to-French, French-to-English, English-to-Spanish, Spanish-to-English, English-to-Russian, etc., etc.), as well as specialized lexicons for medical and other disciplines. We tested the unidirectional, pro-level English lexicon bundled with BDicty Pro. It contains 77,000 references based on Princeton's WordNet lexical database.

The hallmark of any dictionary - printed, online or PDA-based - is the degree to which it can be used in a variety of different situations. Now that Palm OS and Pocket PC operating systems and processors have advanced to the point where they're respectably responsive and versatile, being able to look up words while using a program other than the dictionary has become a standard feature. That functionality is called Resident Lookup. All Palm operating systems since v3.5 and Pocket PC operating systems from 2000 on permit resident lookup. It's a bit like multi-tasking. While reading an e-book, for example, highlight a word then use the Command stroke (left-to-right upward diagonal on the Graffiti area), then tap the small hand icon on the right end of the command bar which appears. The definition for the word you highlighted will be displayed in a BDicty dialog which overlays the program you were in. Tap the program window behind the BDicty dialog and you'll be back in your e-book at the correct spot. Resident Lookup worked in every program we tried including Memo Pad, DateBk5, SuperNames, Documents to Go and Franklin Reader. Some programs, including some text-heavy databases which don't permit highlighting of words, required that we manually enter a word after invoking resident lookup.

Using BDicty is straightforward whether you are simply looking up a word or using resident lookup. Start BDicty then enter a word by printing in the Graffiti area or typing it via keyboard. As you enter letters, the word list will display the closest match. Your word may appear in the list before you've finished printing all the letters. Simply tap the word and the definition will be displayed. If a word can't be found, the word list displays the closest letter match it contains.

While we did not do any competitive comparisons, it appears that BDicty is an excellent choice for students, many professionals, advanced readers, crossword puzzle fanatics and many others. We'll review NoahPro, Franklin's Merriam Webster and Palm Reader's Merriam Webster Collegiate Pro for PalmOS soon. We're also going to be reviewing WordBook for PocketPC.

Cons: Writers are an arrogant lot sometimes. We stepped beyond the stated limits of BDicty and beat the database with our test list of obscure but legitimate words including "coracoid" (a small reptilian bone), "dittography" (duplication of letters or symbols), "esplees" (the yield from land, as rents or produce), "frenate" (var.: to furnish something with a bridle), "metanoia" (a profound transformation) and "googol" (1 followed by 100 zeros), "coprolite" (fossilized dung) and "muliebrity" (having womanly qualities). This is tough and rare stuff, no doubt, usually found only in the largest dictionaries. We couldn't figure out how to invoke Resident Lookup on a Sony Clie TG50 (the device has no Graffiti area in which to enter a command stroke).

Pros: On the other hand, BDicty beat us with the definitions for other obscure terms such as "jejunum" (a small part of the intestine) "lacuna" (a missing part of a manuscript) "musteline" (a fissiped fur-bearing carnivorous mammal) and "phocomelia" (an abnormality in seals limbs). We expect that the medical lexicon which can be purchased separately and added to your PDA or the half-dozen other lexicons will answer many other conceivable needs. Note also that the spellchecker supplied with the superb TextPad text editor (in which most articles and reviews for Kickstartnews are edited) didn't find any of the test words. The spellchecker in Microsoft Word 2000 found only jejunum and lacuna. We're going to send some e-mail to Microsoft and Helios Software about that! Very fast operation on our Palm Zire 71 and respectable speed on our older Sony Clie PEG-S360. If you need a dictionary on your PDA (PalmOS or Pocket PC), BDicty is a great choice. Recommended.

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