33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Very good content, very good software, very good product.,
This review is from: Encarta Premium Suite 2003 CD (CD-ROM)I've bought both ENCARTA and BRITANNICA for years. This is my opinion:
TEXT: The Britannica is a superb encyclopaedia in text since 1768. If only its electronic version were worthy of it!. It is made by the University of Chicago, and the content is very USA focused (Encarta has the UK version).Text in the electronic version is different from Printed Encyclopaedia (large articles have been shortened). Britannica claims that it has more articles than Encarta, but this is a joke: articles like "Spain" are only one with a lot of subdivisions in Encarta, while in Britannica subdivisions are considered articles, and you must "jump" from one subdivision to other.
In some areas Encarta is better than Britannica. For example consider "controversial events in modern history" such us "My Lai Massacre": In Encarta one large article and a lot of mentions in others; Britannica does not even know the name.
In theory, you can update Britannica over the Internet free for a year quarterly (4 times), but this does not work. Encarta is updated free EVERY MONTH (the USA edition is updated EVERY WEEK) with new articles and additions to the old ones. The new articles and additions are included in the next version of Encarta, but this is not true for Britannica. For instance: "Bilbao, Spain": Britannica does not mention the Guggenheim Museum, which opened in 1997, and the population is !!estimated!! of 1982. The same article in Encarta: much more text, 3 photos, 1 map, "related articles" and 1 internet page, plus one specific article "Bilbao Guggenheim Museum". I think Britannica updates its contents very slow, whereas Encarta is completely alive.
MULTIMEDIA: They say that "serious" or "adult" readers do not care about "pictures"; that multimedia is only for kids. I do not agree, because I think that, sometimes, "A picture is worth a thousand words". Works of art, anatomy, maps, diagrams ... Encarta devastates Britannica with a lot of photos, paintings, drawings, maps, animations, interactivities, videos, music and sounds, pictures, literature sidebars, new translation dictionaries (not very good though), atlas, 2-D and 3-D virtual tours, timeline, games ... It's not only the quantity and quality. It is the easy access you have to all the multimedia, and that text and multimedia are fully integrated. Britannica's Atlas is a joke and statistics do not exist or I have not found them. Encarta's has a great detail: 1 cm/ 4 km all over the world (though you find some mistakes) and hundreds of statistical maps.
INTERFACE: This is the worst side of Britannica. In Encarta you only have to type a phrase, a word or the beginning of a word to see all the articles and multimedia that contain it. If you have typed the name of a small village, you see it in the Atlas without clicking again. If Encarta does not find anything, it gives you alternative spellings and you find what you were looking for. To go "jumping" from article to article is very easy and quick, because you have a lot of links and the "Related Articles" section. If you need to copy text or pictures, the integration with Microsoft WORD is perfect. If you don't understand a word, you can double-click it and the dictionary appears in a window.
Navigating with Britannica is different. You get crazy. I will only give an example: if you do not know the exact and correct spelling of a name or word, it does not help you with alternative or similar spellings. The dictionary does not permit double-clicking of words in the text of articles for their definitions. Once an article is displayed you cannot search for a word within the article. This is extremely annoying: you have to perform this task yourself. One "pro" for Britannica: they say it works with Macintosh computers.
This is my piece of advice: If you can afford it, buy both. If not... read again this review.