American Heritage Dictionary Desk Version – Review

On August 25, 2008

App Type: Uncategorized

American Heritage Dictionary Desk Version – Review

Our rating:

By: Richard Northcott

Version #: 1.0

Date Released: 2008-07-25


Price: 8.99

User Rating:

My speling stincks. Always has, always will.

Spellcheck was invented for me and voice recognition software (which doesn’t depend on me for the spelling) is one of the best things to ever happen to me. Even with those two wonderful tools, however, there are still times when I need a really neat invention called the “dictionary”. I have a one in my home study, one on my desk at work and, when in doubt, I am fortunate to have both a spouse and a mother who are excellent spellers.

That’s why I was excited to see a version of the American Heritage Dictionary available for the iPhone iPod Touch.

The American Heritage Dictionary comes in two forms. The desktop version costs $8.99 and the  complete dictionary is a whopping $29.99. Obviously, the more expensive version has more features.

I opted for the desktop version since $8.99 seem to be more than enough for me to be paying for electronic book and find it to be quite useful. The desktop version includes the entire text of the “dead tree” edition, offers cross-referencing, and the ability to bookmark keywords. In all it has over 70,000 entries and includes over 1000 new words and meanings that help but remain up-to-date.

The more expensive version offers all of these features plus information on grammar and style, notes explaining word history, clarification of differences among synonyms, many quotations, and examples of the word used in context. All things that are likely nice to have but not particularly necessary on my handheld device. More than anything else, I want to be able to quickly look up a word when I am writing.

The application itself is rather rudimentary and is quite simple to use. It offers the option of whether or not you want a background to appear when looking up words. (I opted not to have the background as I found it to be incredibly disruptive.) Beyond that, the application offers a search field. Type in a word and it automatically brings up any word that matches the one that you input. It offers partial matches as well. Tapping on the word yields the word broken into syllables, a phonetic spelling of the word, and a number of definitions of that word. In other words, it’s a good, simple to use dictionary.

The application also offers an alphabetical index of words if you would prefer to scroll through the words rather than type them in. This is particularly useful if you don’t know how to spell the word. The index screen offers a vertical alphabet on the right hand side akin to what’s available in the iPhone’s contact application so that you can quickly jump to the letter of your choosing. The other two features of note are the ability to bookmark a specific words and a running history of words that you’ve looked up.

Is it worth the $8.99 I spent on it? On the one hand, yes, particularly if you’re a lousy speller the way I am. On the other hand, no. Why? Because if you download the free eReader application and then go to the eReader website, you will find that they offer The Merriam-Webster Dictionary at a cost of $6.50 ($5.95 if you received their newsletter). It has just as many words and almost as many functions and it’s significantly less expensive.

Either way, if you need help with spelling having one of the many dictionaries available right on your iPhone is a good option.


Quick Take

Value:  High if you need access to a dictionary.
Would I Buy Again:   I would, but then again no one ever tapped me to compete in a spelling bee. I definitely need to have a dictionary around.
Learning Curve:   Zero
Who is it for:   anybody who needs access to a dictionary on the go.
What I like:   Easy-to-use, works well, have not experienced any of the crashes that others seem to note on iTunes.
What I Don’t:  As expensive as “a dead tree” edition dictionary.

Final Statement:  Whether you go with the standalone application or the version available through eReader, this is a worthwhile application to keep on your iPhone or iPod touch.

Read the Developer's Notes:
American Heritage® dictionaries are known for their accessible definitions, informative art, and expert usage guidance. The handy new desk edition brings you all these features in the most convenient format yet. Carry your Desk with you in your iPhone or iPod. Ideal reference tool for students and professionals alike. More than 70,000 entries, thoroughly revised and updated. More than 1,000 new words and meanings, from bioreserve and domestic partner to MP3 and zine. Expert guidance on correct English usage. Numerous photographs and drawings that enhance the definitions. Synonyms, regional notes, etymologies, and more. O U R   T A K E . . .

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