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SuperKids' CD Encyclopedia Trial

The two most important factors in determining an encyclopedia's value are its content, and the ease with which users can find the content they are looking for.

Content. We asked our kids reviewers to give us four examples of recent problems where they could have turned to an encyclopedia for help, producing these test searches:

Ease of Use. SuperKids asked our kids reviewers to give these titles a test run. Their conclusion: all are reasonably easy to use, and selection of a favorite was a matter of personal preference and grade level, rather than superior design. Here are several key differences you may want to consider.

Compton's: Allows Boolean (AND, OR, NOT, ADJACENT, NEAR) searches of the full text of all articles, and by media type. Separate window panes for searching, multimedia, and text results. Double-click on any word to see definition.

Encarta: Search by article topic or keyword, using Boolean search parameters across all or specific media types. Also includes a wizard for less experienced users. Integrated dictionary.

Grolier: Allows title browsing and simple Boolean search combinations (AND, OR, NOT) of full-text of all articles, and by media type. Media and text must be sequentially viewed. Dictionary access via toolbar or keystroke combination - not by clicking.

World Book: Allows title browsing and simple Boolean search combinations (AND, OR, NOT) by article, paragraph, sentence, or heading. Media and text must be sequentially viewed. Double-click on any word to see definition.

Excite! With an experienced web searcher, this was pretty quick work. But finding the real answers isn't always obvious. The CD encyclopedia are honestly easier to use.


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