The interface itself is quite easy to get to grips with, although stylistically just a little bit boring. It is clean and uncluttered however, and because of this it moves quickly from screen to screen. The search is very good, and offers the functionality surfers are used to on the best search engines, such as word substitutions in case of misspelling, and lists of similar entries. The content of the three included packages are well integrated, offering results from all three, the atlas, dictionary and encylopedia, on each search. The Advanced Search functions like a filter, which lets the user search by type of entry, for example, Virtual Tour, animations, or charts and graphs, based on the search terms entered in the left-hand bar.
Those familiar with the Windows operating system will find navigating this software very easy. At the top is the usual toolbar, with File, Edit, View, Features, Tools, and so on. The easy reach of these menus make moving around the software simple, and stress-free, as well as quick to learn.
The content is good, although encyclopedias such as Britannica 2002 (DVD edition, Macintosh DVD) offer more authoritative content, and more comprehensive coverage, but titles such as that haven't yet managed to offer it up in quite in the excellent way that Encarta does.
The multimedia sections are fun, especially the 3-D virtual tours, in which the user can walk around ancient locations in the first-person, gaming style. Azuchi, castle of the ancient Japanese warlord and the Colosseum, are two of the seven available. Available in 2-D are field trips, monuments, famous landmarks, rainforests and so on. These are 360-degree panoramas, in which the user moves by clicking on where they want to go next. The last feature in this section is via map exploration, which is extensively populated with information and areas to explore.
There's a lot to enjoy about Encarta Reference Library, in terms of excellent usability, content and there's clearly been a great deal of thought given to how users actually want to access and use data. It's rather draining on computer systems however, and most people will find they have to use a lot of virtual memory to run it, but it remains as probably the best designed package of its kind on the market. --Alison Jardine
Encarta Reference Library 2002 is the ideal educational partner for today's busy teens.
Encarta Reference Library 2002 supplies students with the best tools for homework, reports and projects, and significantly improves their chances for success in school. In addition to providing fast, easy access to a wealth of information on a myriad of topics, Encarta Researcher provides direction and guidance in compiling and organising information into impressive reports.
Encarta Reference Library gives you access to a world of information with a single click.
From a single search, Encarta gives you access to a world of information, as well as thousands of editorially screened online sources - fast. In seconds, Encarta Reference Library 2002 delivers relevant articles, stock quotations, news items, multimedia, statistics, historical perspectives, geographic information and more.
Encarta Reference Suite 2002 provides rich, relevant, up-to-date information that you can trust.
Content is compiled by thousands of experts in numerous fields and scrupulously reviewed by a dedicated editorial team. Each piece of information included in Encarta Reference Library 2002 is evaluated using ACUBE - it must be Accurate, Current, Understandable, Balanced and Engaging.
Encarta Reference Library features new, compelling, multi-media that makes learning fun
Experience notable historical, geographic, cultural and political events and locations with captivating multimedia. New 3D Virtual Tours, Virtual Flights, Multimedia Maps, dynamic Historical and Music Timelines and Chronologies, Thousands of videos, animations, illustrations, photographs, speeches, anthems, music clips and pronunciations bring your research to life.