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View Full Version : Proporta's ProWord v1.11 reviewed


Andy Whiteford
04-18-2003, 04:00 PM
Every time I refresh a PDA, I have a core of software that always gets installed and one of the main applications is an English dictionary. The Pocket PC platform lends itself well to reference material and I think many people will find a dictionary comes in handy on many occasions and it is essential to someone like me who writes articles for websites. When I found out Proporta were releasing ProWord, I had to take a look.<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/andyw-mar03-proword-1.gif" /><br /><br /><!><br /><i>Okay so an English dictionary is an English dictionary, you pick one and you are good to go. That would be the case if all dictionaries are created equal but on the Pocket PC, that is not the case. So what do Proporta promise with their solution? Well a number of things really. High compression, an intuitive interface and a high number of definitions all wrapped up in one speedy product. Proporta claim that ProWord has in excess of 145,000 entries which make this amongst the biggest, if not the most complete standalone dictionary for the Pocket PC. This certainly backs up their boast of a high number of definitions however what makes this all the more impressive is that this is all packed into a data file of 5.6mb. This confirms that there is indeed a high level of compression utilised here as well.</i><br /><br /><span><b>Installation</b></span><br />Installing ProWord seems fairly straight forward at first. You use the set up to install the main application and select which version of the data set you wish to include. The full version as mentioned above weighs in at 5.6mb or if you are tight on space, you can opt for the small data file which includes 60,000 definitions and will eat up 2.5mb. After installation, I realised things did not go as smoothly as they had seemed. As with most large files, I chose to install ProWord to storage card. If you choose to install to the same location as I imagine most users would, you will receive a dialogue when you go to run the program for the first time stating the data file cannot be found. You are then prompted to search for the file which cannot be located. A quick consultation of the included user manual instructs the user that the default install location is in the Program Files folder. To install to storage card, you need to cut the data folder from the root of the card and paste it into My Documents on the same card before ProWord will see the file. For a program of such apparent polish, it would have been good if the installation process was a little more dynamic to avoid this confusing scenario. Of course I should have read the manual first! Looks like the first word I will look up is Muppet!<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/andyw-mar03-proword-2.gif" /><br /><i>Figure 1: The Index is essentially a master word list</i><br /><br /><span><b>How it works</b></span><br />When you start up ProWord, you are presented with the first of two main views, the Index. This is the master word list beneath which is a text box where you enter the word you wish to look up. Searching is real time which means as you start typing, the Index displays a list of matches that is further refined the more you type. As an alternative to this method of word searching, you can simply scroll through the master word list however while this is quick, it doesnít have the same level of precision as typing out the first few letters of the word. Once you have found the word you are looking for, you simply tap it to enter the second main view which is the definitions page. This display will show you all the available definitions for your chosen word and can be split up into four tabs depending on the word. These tabs will display the different adjective, adverb, noun and verb definitions listed and proves to be a very intuitive way of viewing the use of a word. While in this definitions view, you can still search for something by tapping in the lookup box and entering the word you wish to view.<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/andyw-mar03-proword-3.gif" /><br /><i>Figure 2: The definitions view with all available tabs</i><br /><br /><span><b>Finding your way around</b></span><br />At the bottom of the screen are a few icons to help navigate around the application. In the bottom left hand corner is a green arrow icon. This works in the same fashion as the back button on Internet Explorer i.e. it will take you back one word at a time. Selecting the drop down arrow next to this gives you a list of recently viewed words which can then be directly tapped on. This list also has Index at the top which will take you back to the master word list. Next we have two blue icons pointing up and down. These take you to the previous and next words in the master word list respectively. We then have a copy icon that will let you highlight and copy a word from the dictionary so it can be pasted into another document. The final two icons are a close button and about information.<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/andyw-mar03-proword-4.gif" /><br /><i>Figure 3: A history of all words looked up is kept</i><br /><br />There is no options screen so you cannot tailor the way ProWord works or displays information. That being said, I found no real desire to do this as the interface is great however itís always nice to have the option and of course the lack of Clear Type support will be a disappointment to some. I found performance when looking up a word to be excellent. The real time search really was real time and tapping up a word brought up the definitions page equally as quick with virtually no pause at all. Proportaís claims of speed really are well founded. <br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/andyw-mar03-proword-5.gif" /><br /><i>Figure 4: Each section of a definition is coloured differently</i><br /><br /><span><b>So what does it all mean?</b></span><br />UK and US English versions are both available for words where the spelling may vary. The definitions offered by ProWord are excellent with a good description and selection of usage examples where applicable. Synonyms are all present and correct however these are not linked so tapping on these yields no reward. You will have to look up these words separately if you wish to explore them further. There are also no phonetic spellings or linked word groupings and these are areas that I would like to see ProWord include as it falls behind Lextionary in these respects. I think most if not all other dictionaries suffer a similar fate. ProWord does excel in word lookup over Lextionary however cannot quite match Collins Cobuild dictionary from TomTom which has advanced lookup features such as a crossword function and wildcard search not to mention being very customisable.<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/andyw-mar03-proword-6.gif" /><br /><i>Figure 5: The back button and pop up list</i><br /><br /><span><b>Gotchas</b></span><li>The installation procedure could be easier for people wanting to use a storage card<br /><li>Synonyms are not links which makes it long winded to explore different word options<span><b>Where to buy</b></span><br />ProWord can be <a href="http://www.handango.com/PlatformProductDetail.jsp?siteId=311&platformId=2&productType=2&catalog=0ßionId=0&productId=55191">downloaded from Handango</a> or purchased for $14.99 (affiliate link).<br /><br /><span><b>Specifications</b></span><li>5.75mb storage required for large dictionary<br /><li>2.65mb storage required for small dictionary<br /><li>Pocket PC 2000 or higher<span><b>Conclusion</b></span><br />Proporta made some bold claims about this product and Iím very happy to report that they are all true. To date, I have been using a combination of Collins Cobuild and Lextionary on my Pocket PC as they both have their strengths. While ProWord does have some failings compared to these two rival dictionaries, the pluses are there to be seen. ProWord not only contains more definitions but also performs much quicker and all in a relatively smaller file size. If you absolutely must have word linking and grouping, Lextionary still has the upper hand but as far as this reviewer is concerned, ProWord is a dictionary that will replace both on my device. How you use a dictionary will determine just what product you need but I think most users will use it for word spelling and meanings and ProWord has no failings in both these areas. At this price, it comes very highly recommended.

crazy0000
04-18-2003, 05:09 PM
Does everyone see the XP style start menu?? Where can I get that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

crispeto
04-18-2003, 06:18 PM
Can anyone comment about how they like Lexionary compared to Proporta's ProWord compared to TranCreative's Word Book?

Andy Whiteford
04-18-2003, 07:26 PM
Does everyone see the XP style start menu?? Where can I get that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


This is ICbar available here http://icbar.ictinus.com/

Andy Whiteford
04-18-2003, 07:44 PM
Can anyone comment about how they like Lexionary compared to Proporta's ProWord compared to TranCreative's Word Book?


The main differences for me are:
Lextionary.
Good definitions and synonyms plus phonetic spelling. Less definitions than the other two.

ProWord
Most intuitive interface apart from synonym links. Smallest relative file size. Lacks linking of synonyms and phonetic spellings. Large wordbase

Wordbook
Similar word base to ProWord. Interface not quite as good. Synonym links and phonetic spelling. Look up word from a different application. Larger file size than ProWord.

crispeto
04-18-2003, 08:12 PM
So is there one you favor over the others?

Andy Whiteford
04-18-2003, 08:23 PM
From my conclusion, ProWord does all I need. I'm not saying it it is the best, it just meets my needs. Word Book has a comparitive word base but includes synonym linking (the one feature ProWord really needs) however is a larger file size and the interface is not quite as nice imho. I don't need the linking enough to justify the extra install. All three are great products though.

crispeto
04-18-2003, 09:39 PM
That's good info. Thanks

mhowie
04-19-2003, 04:25 AM
How would the Wordnet Max edition available for Tomeraider compare with these others?

Andy Whiteford
04-19-2003, 11:21 AM
How would the Wordnet Max edition available for Tomeraider compare with these others?


Never used it.