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Advice on Electronic Dictionaries

AKA Geek talk - discuss technology in general; this may or may not relate to Japanese

Advice on Electronic Dictionaries

Postby arantia » Sun 08.26.2012 12:12 am

I've been living in Japan for the past year. Right now, I'm taking an advanced-level intensive course... though my skills are on the lower side of advanced. I can't read many kanji at all, and right now I'm using Kotoba for iPod in lieu of purchasing an electronic dictionary, since it's simple and works for me, and I can draw in any kanji I've found that I can't read (this happens a lot!). But since I plan to continue studying, I feel like I really ought to buy a real one at some point, since they seem to come in handy for everyone else, even those with a low kanji aptitude, like me. They also look far more professional than an Ipod. I'm an ALT, so it's not really a good thing for me to have something like that in the classroom.

I looked through the ones available at my local K's Denki but they're all so daunting, I could hardly even find the "on" switch! So I was wondering if anyone could give me some recommendations, or even a quick-and-dirty guide to understanding how these things work.

Many thanks in advance!
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Joined: Sat 08.25.2012 11:58 pm
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Re: Advice on Electronic Dictionaries

Postby 櫻~ » Sun 09.16.2012 2:17 am

"I've been living in Japan for the past year", lucky you :mrgreen:

I'm on a similar situation like you, except I'm in a place the complete opposite of Japan :cry:. Anyway, from what you say I guess you want something good on the 英和-和英 sides of things. I made a thread some time ago, did you see it? Basically there's not much except the higher end models, like the Casio XD-D9800 or D10000. I've been using the "Green Goddess" on my phone, and as they say, it's REALLY worth it.

From browsing the net Casio seems to be on the top of everything for dictionaries and it's one of the few (or only) that still uses AA batteries, big plus for me. I'm seeing the D9800 for ~29000¥ and the D10000 for ~35000¥. I'm about to buy one too, I'd go for the top of the line if I could, the contents it has look pretty nice :whistle: (I can actually, but the customs are unpredictable here, taxes could go from 50 to 100% to who knows :doh:).

Take a look at Casio's site for the dictionaries' contents and decided there. If you get one let me know how it went :P (or if you already got one...). They don't look THAT hard to use, at least the basics. I can't tell you though, never touched one, only the little I've seen on the net. At least you can have hours of fun (?) figuring out what does what :mrgreen: (I did that with the ATOK IME on PC, and I guess I haven't even discovered half of the features yet).
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Joined: Mon 04.02.2012 9:49 pm
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Re: Advice on Electronic Dictionaries

Postby jerry.jerry » Sun 09.23.2012 2:41 am

I have an old computer dictionary, i am selling it for only 5000yen, if you are interested message me boku-wa-genki@willcom.com
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Joined: Sun 09.23.2012 2:35 am
Native language: English, Chinese

Re: Advice on Electronic Dictionaries

Postby SuperHair » Mon 10.15.2012 12:52 am

Hello, all!

After an extended leave from the site, I have finally found my old username and changed my password. I posted on this site a very long time ago, and here I am starting all over again! My Japanese language skills stretch vastly in the "novice" region and have exceedingly plenty room for improvement.

Taking your advice for the electronic dictionaries after a very brief forum search, I have a question about a more affordable alternative. Browsing a local Best Buy store alerted a customer service rep to help me find the Franklin FRS-1400. At Best Buy it runs about 140.00 USD although Amazon is letting some go for 110.00 USD. Has anyone used this electronic dictionary and able to give a review? Can anyone suggest a reliable dictionary closer to my price range? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I'm not entirely convinced that I want to get an electronic dictionary, however if I see my options and feel confident about the product then I might change my mind.

My anticipation for learning the Japanese language runs high! I would thank you all greatly if I were kindly accepted unto your forums.
I\'m full of surprises. So be surprised already!
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Joined: Thu 02.01.2007 2:38 am

Re: Advice on Electronic Dictionaries

Postby 櫻~ » Mon 10.15.2012 2:03 am

You're way too tight with the budget. That thing you mentioned is... well, useless. Just from the title I wouldn't expect anything good for learning Japanese from a "14 Language Speaking Translator". Those "translators" must be good for traveling, with pre-made phrases and useful words, just like those "speak x language in 2 weeks" type of books.

For learning what you want is a real dictionary. Since you're that tight your only option is an Android or Apple device. I don't know anything about Apple, the prices in my country are 4 or 5 times USA's prices, so I don't get even near those things. But I hear there are a lots of apps.

Till now (I'm about to order the Casio XD-D10000 for the heck of it :whistle:) I've been doing pretty well with Android apps. See if you can get an iPod (I see they are 200 or less in USA) or any Android. For the latter you have the classical Aedict (Edict) and also EPWING viewers which you can load with "proper" dictionaries. I mainly use the "Green Goddess" which you can easily find around in EPWING format if you know what I mean. I only use Edict for rare or specialized words, some compound words or whatever. Sometimes for having a quick glance of a word or the meaning of the separate kanjis that form a word. Still, I appreciate it a lot for being free and almost anywhere, like in Aedict :P

So, to sum up:

Aedict: good all-around, you get the app and download the dictionary files within it. All free.

EBPocket: by far the best EPWING viewer (not that there are many for Android). You have a free and paid version. Free is enough for regular searching. Paid one looks good, but I didn't tried it (since I'm going for a "proper" 電子辞書). You need dictionaries in said format, the app also supports some more formats I think. The Goddess is a must here. You can also get Edict dictionaries, the ones from Aedict, in EPWING format and add them to EBPocket. That way you get everything in one app. Convenient.

ATOK: killer keyboard. Gesture input is a bliss. Expensive but I guess you know where to find it. Otherwhise Google IME for Japanese is good enough.

Mazec: great kanji recognizing IME (works as a keyboard). I use it together with a Galaxy Note, I guess it's as good as a 電子辞書. I have some trouble when writing all in hiragana, it doesn't recognize some kanas too well, at least with my handwriting. But for kanji it's a must. Not necessary to have a stylus, before getting the Note I used it on a LG P500 (3.5" screen) and, unless the kanji had lots of strokes, it worked pretty well. The "hard" kanjis can be done with some patience too. If you get something with a ~4" inch or more screen I guess you can use your finger well enough to be comfortable. 3.5" felt a bit tiresome after a while, I'd only recommend it for casual searching. Paid app but very cheap (a few USD).

Save for an Android device at least. It's the best you can do. If you want more details about apps or dictionaries, PM me, I'll be glad to help :P

P.S.: If you get an Android it's IMPERATIVE to root it ("root" means gaining "Administrator" privileges over the system to modify any part of it). By default Android only has Chinese characters, not the Japanese variations of them. You have to root it (a process that's very simple with a guide for your phone model), add a font file to the system's font folder and edit a txt file to give that Japanese font top priority when displaying characters, if not you'll get Chinese.

I always buy my phones unbranded and free from any provider. That way I can do anything I want with it. But if you get yours on a plan or locked to a company you MIGHT not be able to root it. I don't know much about locked phones, you'd have to look around on Google or forums on how that works. XDAis the top thing when it comes to phones, you should try looking the model there. If it gets too complicated try plain old Google.

Well, that's all (I think). When I get my little Casio I may do a mini-review or something, lol. Haven't found much about the thing from English speaking sites <_<
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Re: Advice on Electronic Dictionaries

Postby samesame » Sun 06.08.2014 2:06 am

Just a quick question... but what is the advantage of using an electronic dictionary over a paid dictionary app for Android/iOS? Is there a difference in capabilities? Are there just not good software dictionaries available?

Sorry for the noob question!
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