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Being an avid DVD fan, I was very pleased when Microsoft finally brought the Encarta suite to DVD-ROM last year with Encarta 99. This year we get more of the same, with yet more articles, videos, timelines, maps, words and access to Encarta Online Deluxe. Here are a few of the features:
Installation and Settings
The Encarta Reference Suite 2000 usually comes on 5 CD's, but now with the DVD version there is no need to spend time swapping around the CD's when you are searching for information. Encarta has a number of different installation choices for you to pick from, once you insert the DVD you can install various components as shown below:
The bottom three are not really needed unless you would like to use these gimmicks such as text to speech or the slowly improving Microsoft Speech Recognition. Installing the Encarta 2000 DVD can take a while (Especially if you choose to install Internet Explorer 5 as well) but it installed without any problems.
I have decided to break the review down into separate components just like Encarta itself is. I will begin with the Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2000. Encarta Encyclopedia is filled full of documents, topics, accounts, illustrations, sounds and videos, everything you would want from a computer encyclopedia.
For those of you who have not seen the layout and design of Encarta I will explain the basic layout for you. The basic design is similar to that of the old MSN that Microsoft used to run, the borders and menus are in black, while the main area you read, view articles, images etc from changes color depending on what you are reading, although it is usually a white background. At the top of the Encarta layout are the main menus, they include the following:
The main area from which you search from is called "Find" once you click on this option via the menu, a bar appears on the left hand side of the layout, from here you can enter letters/words to find items you are looking for. You can also search by type of information, this way you can filter out items and only choose a certain type such as an image or some video footage, something that is very useful.
Encarta is full of very well written articles from science to entertainment, each item you read is streamed off of the DVD in such a quick speed you don't notice any kind of wait at all. Certain articles also contain different types of multimedia such as sounds, images, video footage and some excellent 360-Degree Views (Shown below).
The 360-Degree Views are as I mentioned, very impressive. They add a good level of interactivity into the encyclopedia, even more so when they are used in the Virtual Tours section of Encarta. From the Virtual Tours section (Shown below) you can travel to destinations across the world and view them via the 360-Degree option, but it isn't limited to just one view, clicking on hyperlinks in the video window moves you onto new locations.
As you can already see, Encarta isn't limited to just basic articles and images it also has a host of interactive extras for young and old alike. By clicking on the Interactivities center via the Features menu you can view simulations on a host of subjects. They range from building up a dinosaur from its bones (Shown below) to viewing the human skull anatomy.
A new feature in Encarta 2000 is the Dynamic Timeline (Shown Below), from here you can explore and analyze history through a mass of timelines. At a first look it may seem a little bit confusing, but one you start to find topics or years, searching categories and places then it all becomes far easier and very interesting to read.
There are so many features in Encarta 2000 that it is very hard to go through them all in one go. Next up we have the Internet options. By clicking on TOOLS and then DOWNLOADS you can update your Encarta yearbook with the latest articles and images that has been updated by the Encarta team. New yearbook updates are released each month and only take a few minutes to download and helps keep your articles up to date if your children use Encarta for schoolwork. This current year 2000 update of Encarta also includes special Millennium yearbook updates that you can download and can be access in the Millennium section.
Encarta World English Dictionary
Encarta 2000 Reference Suite DVD comes with a multimedia reference library, which you can use to enhance your written communication and find information about many different topics. Encarta Dictionary is the first newly written English Dictionary in over 30 years. From here you can access the Dictionary, Thesaurus, Quotations, Almanac, Style Guide and Computer Dictionary. The dictionary is again very well written and easy to use, with many sounds and musical items included within it. Oh and the computer Dictionary is also very nice too heh.
The Encarta 2000 Reference Suite DVD is a must by in my opinion. It makes create use of your DVD-ROM and features so many articles, images, sounds and videos that you will be engrossed for hours and on top of that you also get access to Encarta online until the end of next year and an excellent dictionary. Overall Encarta 2000 Reference Suite DVD is something your DVD-ROM drive cannot do without.
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