The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. (data base) (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications) (Evaluation)
by David English
For the past two years, Compton's and Grolier's have been slugging it out for the best CD-ROM encyclopedia. While the Compton's Multimedia Encyclopedia has scored extra points for its well-designed interface, Grolier's has won kudos for the depth of its writing. To oversimplify, Compton's has been easier to use, but is written on a fifth-grade level. While Grolier's is a bit harder to navigate, but is written on a junior-high level. (Don't be put off by what seem to be low grade levels, most newspapers and magazines are written on a fifth-grade level.)
With this latest edition, titled The New Grolier's Multimedia Encyclopedia (Grolier Electronic Publishing, Sherman Turnpike, Danbury, Connecticut 06816; 800-356-5590; $395), Grolier has moved to close the interface gap. In addition to the usual word search and alphabetical article listing, you can use the new Knowledge Tree. It lets you navigate a hierarchical index of six general topics (Arts, Geography, History, Science, Society, and Technology).
For example, you might choose The Arts, then Performing Arts, Film, Directors and Producers, and Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein. You would then be treated to a short biography of the Russian film director written by Jay Leyda, the nation's top Soviet film scholar. You can also use the new Timeline to view important events chronologically. Choose a year or series of years, and simply select one of the major events from that period.
This latest version of Grolier's adds more than 50 short video clips in the areas of space exploration, historical events, animal and plant life, and science and technology. Many of the videos, including the Apollo II moon landing, the Hindenburg disaster, and John Kennedy's inaugural address, include sound. Seven-thousand new articles (bringing the total to 33,000) and thousands of illustrations and pictures also have been added.
As I write this, the new DOS version of Grolier's is shipping, but I wasn't able to see the new Windows version--which should be available by the time you read this. Based on previews, however, its interface should be similar to the Windows-based Compton's Multimedia Encyclopedia.
This is certainly a winning product. You get all 21 volumes of the printed Grolier's Encyclopedia, with pictures, maps, sounds, and video thrown in for good measure--all for just $395. It's the perfect addition for any home PC. Don't stay home without it.