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Britannica 2008 Ultimate review

Learning made fun with this update to the well known encyclopaedia

If you have children, then it pays to have a resource like this in the house

Our Verdict

A great resource to have at home for the family, although you made need to do some follow up research on the internet if you want up to date information


  • Improved usability
  • Some fun and interesting features


  • Not very logically laid out
  • Not as current as the internet

Having an encyclopaedia to hand has always been a necessity when you've a project to complete. Although the internet is a great source of information, there is no knowing whether the information you seek has been thoroughly vetted. It's not that Britannica hasn't acknowledged the presence of the internet, as this is the second version of the encyclopaedia to offer over 160,000 vetted links to help expand on the resources found on the DVD disc.

As with previous editions, you'll find it can be loaded up in three different age groups - adult, under tens and young adult. Choose the version you want to use and you'll find content written at an appropriate level, which is something you won't find if you rely on the internet as a resource tool. The interface of each section suits the appropriate age group, but it's not as clean or intuitive as we'd like and certainly not as easy to use as rival Microsoft Encarta, for instance.

Improved Usability

It now comes with a feature that makes this edition easier to use. For instance, the new Workspace allows you to collect and store images and data in one place. You can bookmark pages and even make notes. All of which adds to the usability of the suite. Another new addition is Great Minds, which is aimed at adult users and is biography notes from 2,000 leading thinkers. These are interactive with a range of notes and media clips and bring what could potentially be dry subjects a little more to life.

Online encyclopaedias can be updated daily, but a DVD can't, so Britannica supplies this program with a year's subscription to Britannica Online; so as long as you have an internet connection you can check for the latest changes.

If you have children, then it pays to have a resource like this in the house. It has plenty of facts and figures and unlike the internet, you can safely leave you children to search for themselves.