In schools, libraries and homes across America, World Book Encyclopedia has always been considered the go-to reference for general knowledge in a clear, easy-to-understand format. World Book Encyclopedia has been in print since 1917, and within the last couple of decades it has expanded to digital formats such as CDs, DVDs, and the internet. The branch of the library I work for has a set of fairly current World Book Encyclopedias.
You may be asking yourself, in an age of Wikipedia and instant information, is World Book still relevant? This review on the World Book Encyclopedia 2012 DVD will attempt to answer that question.
Software MacKiev, which has developed and published World Book Encyclopedia electronically since 2007, lists these minimum system requirements:
- Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later Mac OS, including 10.8 Mountain Lion
- 867 MHz or faster G4 processor or newer. Includes all Intel Macs.
- 512 MB of RAM
- 1024 x 768 resolution, Millions of Colors
- 1.6 GB of hard drive space
- Microsoft Windows XP SP2 or later, including Vista and Windows 7
- 800 MHz or faster processor
- 256 MB of RAM
- 1024 x 768 resolution, 32-bit color depth
- 1.6 GB of hard drive space
Due to problems with my Mirrored Drive Doors Power Mac G4, I was unable to test World Book Encyclopedia 2012 DVD on a Mac, but I was able to test it on a Windows PC.
Installation was straightforward. You have three options in regards to the type of installation you want: Typical, Custom, and Complete. Typical is generally what most people choose. If you want to install just certain parts of World Book Encyclopedia 2012, you can choose Custom. If you want to install everything from the DVD onto your hard drive to keep from having to use the DVD every time, you can choose Complete. I chose the Complete installation, and installation took 3-5 minutes. Your mileage may vary.
The World Book Encyclopedia 2012 Home Screen
Upon starting World Book Encyclopedia 2012, you will be presented with an animated, yet simple, home screen. The home screen shows the different sections and options in World Book Encyclopedia 2012. There are two main sections of the home screen: Search, which is on the left. and Browse, which is on the right. In the Search section, you will find Topics, Dictionary, Time Frame, What’s Online, and Atlas. In the Browse section, Just Listening, Just Looking, Media Center, World Book Trivia, and Surf the Ages.
Along the bottom of the home screen, you will see a scrolling ensemble of pictures, animations, and videos, each of which you can click on to take you to what it corresponds to in the World Book Encyclopedia 2012. This is a very nice touch!
One other thing to note: In almost whatever you choose on the World Book Encyclopedia 2012 Home screen, you will be taken to a window that resembles a web browser. You will have menus as well as a toolbar that includes, from left to right: Search, Dictionary, Back, Forward, Home, Sticky Note, Highlighter, Article, Media Center, Atlas, Just Looking, Time Frame, Surf, and What’s Online.
Let’s take a look at each of the features of World Book Encyclopedia 2012.
When you click on the Topics button on the Home screen, you will see a search box on the left where you can search by Topic, Word, or Letter – very straightforward. For example, I did a search on Halloween by Topic. The results were shown below the search box. Under Halloween, four topics were shown, one being the entry for Halloween, and the other three Mask (Festive masks), October, and Pumpkin. I’m more of a browser than a searcher, but I like how World Book Encyclopedia 2012’s Search function is laid out.
The dictionary is based on World Book’s dictionary. Like the Topics search, the Dictionary is straightforward. I typed in Halloween and, as expected, it showed the definition of Halloween. You can even choose between displaying the Dictionary by Definitions or by a Word List.
Search: Time Frame
Time Frame is one of the coolest parts of World Book Encyclopedia 2012. You can find out what happened in a certain year, era, decade, century, or even millennium. You can choose a certain category or all categories at once.
Time Frame searches the entire encyclopedia to find articles pertaining to however you choose to search. As an example, say I wanted to look up info on what happened in the year my Dad was born, which was 1931: I can click on Year, type in 1931, and I will be presented with everything that happened during that year.
Search: What’s Online
What’s Online is a compilation of links, special World Book features such as Article Updates, The Month in Brief, Back in Time, Special Reports, Webcams (which shows webcams capturing live video across the world), and World Book on the Web.
Like the Dictionary function, the Atlas function is based on World Book’s Atlas, and is as equally straightforward. You can search or browse the Atlas and there’s even a Distance Calculator to calculate the distance from one place to another.
Browse: Just Listening
Just Listening lets you sample different types of music as well as hear excerpts from speeches, bird calls, poetry, Shakespeare, nature sounds, and animal noises. There is also a selection for a music sampler, which randomly plays anything from the aforementioned categories.
Browse: Just Looking
Although nothing will replace the simple pleasure of flipping through a print encyclopedia at random, this feature allows you to do it digitally. When you click on Just Looking, you are presented with a small window that lets you browse by Theme or by Category. You can narrow or broaden what you want to browse, and there’s also a pull-down “drawer” that has a topic list of all World Book Encyclopedia entries. Be forewarned, this can be very addictive.
Browse: Media Center
Want a way to browse all the pictures, videos, animations, along with other media World Book Encyclopedia 2012 has? Media Center is your ticket. You can select certain types of media or select all media to narrow or broaden your search. This is an awesome way to watch different speeches or see different animations if you’re a browser like me.
Browse: World Book Trivia
If you’re a trivia buff, this is a feature you will love. You can choose from several different categories of trivia, all totaling 74 categories. You can either select a certain category or select all categories. The topics seem endless!
Browse: Surf the Ages
This is a unique feature. Imagine if internet access had been around in centuries gone by. This is what Surf the Ages is all about. Surf the Ages is divided into three categories: Ancient Times, Middle Ages, and Modern Times. It’s like online news from those days. The browser seems a bit dated, but it does a great job of navigating from page to page.
Sticky Notes and Highlighter
If you find an article you like and want to jot down a note pertaining to the topic, you can click on the Sticky Note icon on the toolbar toward the top of the screen. You can select colors other than the default orange.
If you see a word, phrase, or sentence you want to highlight, you can click on the Highlighter icon, also on the toolbar. You can click on a word to highlight a word as well as clicking and holding down the mouse button while dragging left or right to select a sentence or more. As with a Sticky Note, you can also select a different color highlighter. These are simple, but very useful features!
Print vs. Digital Comparison
During this review, I was able to compare World Book Encyclopedia 2012 DVD to the print version of the World Book Encyclopedia including the Yearbook and Science Yearbook, although the print version was from 2011. How do they measure up? In terms of finding information, I tend to be old-school and love flipping through books. The Index in the print encyclopedia, Volume 22, is very easy to find what you’re looking for. Or, on days when it’s raining or there’s nothing to do, just sitting down with a volume and reading through parts of it or all of it can be addictive as the time will fly. There’s something to be said about being able to flip through a print encyclopedia.
The DVD is also very easy to use and has plenty of features either to supplement or be the only encyclopedia you need. I found both to be awesome in their own right.
Along with World Book Encyclopedia 2012 DVD, you will get one year of online updates for free. If you wish to keep it updated after the year is up, you can purchase an update subscription. Each time an update is done in the World Book Encyclopedia 2012 DVD, it’s fast and seamless.
World Book Encyclopedia 2012 offers an extremely compelling, interactive package along with being a more accurate alternative to Wikipedia. Just as World Book has proven over the years with the World Book Print Encyclopedia, they have proven once again that not only is it still relevant even in an instant gratification society, it’s still tops in authoritative, general research that is simple to navigate and easy to understand. I give it my highest rating.
The 2013 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia DVD has been released. It sells for $39.95.