Encyclopaedia Brittanica 2009 Ultimate Edition

Is there a place for an electronic, DVD-based version of Encyclopaedia Britannica in the post-Wikipedia world? We tested Encyclopaedia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Edition to find out.

Encyclopaedia Brittanica 2009 Ultimate Edition
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Relatively comprehensive

Cons

  • Wikipedia has more depth to most of its entries

Bottom Line

The 2009 Ultimate DVD Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is relatively comprehensive but it faces an unequal struggle against the free monolith of Wikipedia, which ultimately has more depth to most of its entries. But the 4GB installation of Encyclopaedia Britannica 2009 beats the 180GB of English Wikipedia (if you should download the latest archive), so for reasons of size and safety, the Britannica still has its place.

Would you buy this?

‘Knowledge is power' is a popular aphorism, attributed to Roger Bacon over 400 years ago. The Encyclopaedia Britannica isn't quite that old - it's generally reckoned to have been first published in 1768 - but it's still respected as a great font of knowledge, even in this online age.

The latest electronic edition, available on one DVD, is billed as Encyclopaedia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Edition. While it may be the biggest version yet, claiming over 74,000 article entries, it will still have trouble keeping up with that popular internet oracle Wikipedia. In its English language repository alone, Wikipedia can boast 2.7 million article entries.

To counter this kind of competition, the Encyclopaedia Britannica promotes features that will appeal to certain users, namely its safety for children (no need to send your kids out on the net), and its accuracy and credibility. Unlike Wikipedia's sometimes partisan entries, susceptible to vandalism by jokers and people with axes to grind, the Encyclopaedia Britannica 2009 has articles written by professional historians and experts, with facts checked by Brittanica editorial staff.

New features in Encyclopaedia Britannica 2009 include Britannica Biographies with over 2000 entries, plus another 2000 Great Minds entries; Historical Timelines which shows a linear flow of history; a new interactive A-Z QuickSearch; and Britannica Book of the Year articles.

When you start up Encyclopaedia Britannica 2009 - a cross-platform package for Windows or Mac - it asks what type of content you'd like to see - Elementary for children 6-10, Intermediate for 10-14 year olds, or adult. The main interface resembles a web browser coded for frames, with a left-hand sidebar listing entries alphabetically, and Home and forward/backward arrows above. Also at top are buttons to start separate functions such as Dictionaries, Atlas, Timelines, BrainStormer.

The latter function is a practical realisation of a mind-mapping app, with entries already coded in place. Start with Britannica KnowledgeBase, and you can follow spidered lines to, for example, science and mathematics, quantum electrodynamics, before landing at Nobel prize winner Aleksandr Prokhorov, where you can read his entry.

The core search function requires some care and second-guessing. We looked up writer Philip K Dick, and were shown only an entry on Philip I of Spain. As we started to type in Dick, though, the entry was then listed. And the US-centric nature of the formerly British encyclopedia is also all-too obvious. Look up ‘colour' in the built-in dictionary, and you're simply informed that this is the Brit spelling for ‘color'.

Multimedia clips, typically low-res film and audio clips, are included for some entries, but their quality is disappointing. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2009 is also somewhat buggy, with messy text entries in places and we were unable to complete fields in the built-in registration page, necessary to download updates.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?