I’m working on updating my Electronic Dictionary Recommendations page at TJS. I’ll post the recommendations here hoping for some comments and opinions from others.
Here is the Introduction and the Best Quality Dictionaries Award:
Recommendations from Clay
There are a few features that you, as an English speaker learning Japanese, may want to look for:
* Stylus – Write unknown kanji/words directly on the dictionary
* Kenkyusha J-E dictionary – In most cases, English speakers use the J-E more than the E-J. This huge J-E has a large number of quality example sentences and explanations
* Backlighting – Not specific for English speakers, but it is kind of like going from dial up to broadband. Once you try it, there’s no going back.
I will add a section under the ‘Electronic Dictionaries‘ category called ‘Categories’ (unless I can think of something better!) which will have a few sub categories that are particularly useful for English speakers learning Japanese. ‘Large J-E’, ‘Backlit’, ‘with Stylus’ etc.
Best Quality Dictionaries Award: Casio XD-GW9600 or Seiko SR-G10000
For those wanting the top of the line.
Until recently all dictionaries pretty much had the same smallish E-J and J-E (usually Genius). Suddenly, the G55 and now extinct Seiko SR-T7100 came out with super E-J dictionaries. This was nice, but native English speakers are more likely to use the J-E dictionary than the E-J. The J-E for both models is the standard Genius. While the Genius is decent, this was a let down until…
The Canon G70, Seiko SR-E10000, the G10000 and now the Casio XD-GW9600 have the “Green Goddess” which is Kenkyusha’s super J-E. A whopping 480,000 entries!! Imagine nearly half a million Japanese words with English translations, definitions and examples. I remember being amazed by my first Wordtank – IDX-9500 which had a whopping 60,000 entries. All of these models are very well rounded and I highly recommend any of them.
This being said, the beginner or even intermediate may not have much trouble finding words in the standard Genius J-E dictionary found in most other models. Intermediates and above will increasingly be looking up difficult or rare words which may not be in the standard J-E, HOWEVER at that stage, you should be able to look up these words by going to the J-J dictionary. It would be good practice to read the Japanese explanation anyway. The one obvious exception would be someone doing any kind of J-E translation work. In this case having the large J-E would be worth its weight in gold.
On the other hand, the Kenkyusha J-E is extremely impressive and would be helpful for students of all stages (although read ‘Recommendations for Beginners’ in a future post)
Another new addition to the high end family is the Seiko G10000. This is very similar to the E10000 but adds a high resolution display (640×480). This should help those with poor eyesight, but of course it really boosts up the price. In the world of computers the greatest expense in buying a new computer is usually the display. I can’t say it is really worth the extra price – unless you need it for the better screen – but then again it may be the future for these high end models.
My current favorite is probably the Casio XD-GW9600. It has the Kenkyusha J-E, Backlighting, SD card for importing txt files from your computer and a stylus. I’ve made a few videos showing how to set it up and some of its functions. Click here for the video links.
There are two drawbacks for this model in my opinion. First it is huge. Well, not huge huge, but huge still. It is larger than most other models I’ve seen and more importantly, heavier. It is still highly portable, but for those always on the go, this may be a consideration.
Second, and this is small, it doesn’t have a MP3 player built in. It comes with a USB cable to hook up to your computer, but the only file format it recognizes is txt. This is great for reading ebooks and being able to use the built in jump function, but it seems like they could have added an MP3 player without much trouble. I can think of several educational uses for an MP3 player – listen to downloadable Japanese radio broadcasts, podcasts for learning Japanese, listening to enka, etc.
More to come soon…