The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by J. Blake Lambert
The 1994 edition of The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia contains the text of 21 volumes of Grolier's Academic American Encyclopedia. It also adds sights and sounds, as well as tools to help you quickly find information in over 32,000 articles.
Grolier's toolbar puts most functions just one click away. As you'd expect, Grolier lets you view and search an article title list, a word index, and an extensive list of historical events. In addition, there are specific indices for sounds, regular and multimedia maps, pictures, videos, and animations. When Grolier displays an article, the available options appear in an icon bar above the text. This lets you access an outline, an animation, a sound, or another related special element with a mouse click.
The Knowledge Tree lets you enter the encyclopedia by area of interest. The main branches of this expanding outline are The Arts, Geography, History, Science, Society, and Technology. The Knowledge Explorer provides narrated multimedia essays on general topics. The titles include Asia, Australia, and the Pacific; Europe; Foundations of Science; Human Body; Music; North America; Painting and Sculpture; Physical Earth; Plant World; South America; and Space Exploration.
Multimedia Maps are animated maps with narration which show important events like the colonization of America and the spread of the Roman Empire. Some of the better ones are related to wars and conflicts in which the U.S. has been involved (notably missing are maps of the World Wars). Other generaltopic animations, which also include narration, are useful learning tools.
Like other CD-ROM encyclopedias, Grolier lets you jump to articles via highlighted words in the text. And, since it's easy to forget where you found information, you can set bookmarks.
When it's time to produce a report, Grolier lets you print or save articles to disk (it supports appending, so you can build one file from many sources). Other items, including some graphics, may be saved and printed.
Like most CD-ROM encyclopedias, Grolier is broad but not extremely deep in its coverage. It has plenty of visual material, but its interface is less visual and more text oriented than Microsoft Encarta's. Still, it entertains while educating, making it one of the best choices from the current crop of CD-ROM encyclopedias.
Grolier Electronic Publishing
$149.95 (competitive upgrade)
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