Microsoft Encarta 2006
- Neatly integrated text and multimedia, wide range of reference information
- Variable quality of some entries, lack of links
A handy and well-priced reference tool, but facing stiff competition from Web resources.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Since its launch in 1993, Encarta has become the dominant electronic encyclopaedia and helped effectively kill off the concept of a print encyclopedia. The 2006 Australian reference library version (which can be installed from either CD or DVD) incorporates a dictionary, atlas, and specialised children's material, but doesn't entirely meet the rising challenge of online reference sources such as Wikipedia.
Installation is straightforward, although slow; the space-challenged can choose to access content from the DVDs or CDs, but copying to your local hard drive gives much better performance. The package includes 68,000 articles, 25,000 illustrations, and 1.8 million map locations, as well as specialised video content from the Discovery Channel and selected newspaper excerpts from the Times. Specialised local content has been added to the Australian edition, although annoyingly there's no way of telling the dictionary to use Australian rather than American English spelling.
Navigation through Encarta is straightforward. You can browse by category or read selected entries, but most users are likely to simply type a term into the search bar and check what appears. Related articles and media are clearly listed in a separate table.
Even allowing for the inherent constraints of encyclopaedia entries, the content is somewhat variable. Some entries (such as those for Linux) show evidence of corporate bias. Others, such as the description of the MP3 file format, are just plain inaccurate. Many entries show an imbalance, with much more detail on recent events -- presumably a legacy of Microsoft's adding new information to content acquired from third parties. Some odd decisions have been made concerning what data is included (such as a lack of birth or death dates for biographical entries) and there could be more extensive use of linking, especially in the supplementary materials.
One potentially useful addition is the Encarta Web Companion, which adds a search toolbar to Internet Explorer and allows you to try existing Web searches against Encarta's contents. Encarta also offers an auto-update service to incorporate new information, although you need to have a Microsoft Passport membership and the updates themselves are fairly hefty (more than 50MB the first time we installed them).
Microsoft's positioning of Encarta is that it offers an authoritative source of information, as opposed to the random and unsubstantiated nature of much online information. It remains a useful reference tool for quick fact-checking, and for families it minimises the risk of children accessing unsuitable material while researching a topic. However, are enough problems in its content that you may well need to supplement its information with community-edited resources like Wikipedia.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 2 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
- 4 Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft shows the power of its Pen with a new Whiteboard app and other upgrades
- Windows 10 S will not run Linux, even though it's a downloadable Windows app
- The Windows 10 Game Bar: What PC gamers need to know
- Microsoft redesigns OneNote UI to make it more universally accessible
- Windows 10 Insider build 16199 fills some holes in the Creators Update
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Huawei P10 smartphone review
- Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- CCBlue Prism DeveloperVIC
- CCBusiness SpecialistVIC
- FTReport Developer and Visualisation AnalystQLD
- FTBusiness Development Manager IT HealthcareQLD
- FTTest AnalystNSW
- CC.Net DeveloperNSW
- FTAnalyst ProgrammerVIC
- CCReporting System Specialist - Port MacquarieQLD
- TPDigital ProducerVIC
- CCSenior PMO AnalystNSW
- CCSalesforce Marketing CloudNSW
- FTTest Manager / Test LeadQLD
- FTUnix EngineerACT
- FTProject Manager HFC Capacity ManagementVIC
- FTProject Manager / Web DeveloperVIC
- TPMobile Application DeveloperVIC
- FTManual Test AnalystQLD
- FTSupport OfficerSA
- FTSupport Engineer Level 3QLD
- CCSharepoint DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Solution Designer/ ConsultantVIC
- FTiOS DeveloperNSW
- FTSnr Technical Salesforce Consultant Global IT Managed Services - SydneyNSW
- CCIT Security Risk AnalystVIC