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Bouquets and brickbats
on 10 February 2011
At last, a Franklin crossword solver that overcomes the main drawbacks of the earlier Puzzlemaster CWM206--discontinued--and the Franklin Chambers Crossword Dictionary CWR206--still available. (See my reviews of these machines.)
The earlier models had a poorly designed hinge; the lid soon came loose. One or more of the small rubber pads, glued to the base, fell off, so the machine wobbled. Worst of all, after regular daily use, some of the keys--especially the on/off key and arrow keys--had to be pressed several times and eventually stopped working altogether.
The lid of the CWR319 has two separate hinges; they should last much longer. The rubber pads under the base are plugged firmly into recesses. The keys are more robust and should last longer, though only time will tell.
The display shows two lines of blue text, or one line with larger letters. Entries are typed as capitals; answers appear in lower case. Earlier models showed only one line in black capitals.
The CWR319 stores over 500,000 solutions, not just words from the Chambers Crossword Dictionary but hundred of categories of proper nouns such as the names of abbeys, actors, football teams, Prime Ministers, rivers, etc, all listed by word length.
It can solve anagrams where the answer is more than one word. The words `foam lies in' became `Isle of Man'. The CWM206 and CWR206 find only one-word answers.
It can also find synonyms, listed by word length. You can specify the number of letters to see synonyms that will fit your crossword.
However, with anagrams or missing characters, the CWR319 fails to find some plurals and derivatives. It found minnow but not minnows, countermand but not countermanded. The earlier models find far more plurals and derivatives.
It also failed to find some not unusual words; for example, culinary and semifinal. These words are not in the Chambers Crossword Dictionary book but they are in the CWM206 and CWR206 and in my Seiko ER6000 Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus.
The CWR319 can be used for Countdown using a feature called Word Builder. Enter the nine letters shown on the TV. It then displays, one at a time, the longest word(s) then the next longest and so on, including proper nouns and phrases. But it takes about 30 seconds to build a complete list so the Countdown contestant may beat the machine.
If you want a fast, easy to use crossword solver, buy the much cheaper CWR206 but the lid may fall off and the keys will wear out. For a more robust machine with extra features and a few drawbacks, buy the CWR319. Better still, buy one of the more expensive Seiko machine, excellent for crosswords but no good for Countdown.