Tuesday, March 18, 2008
When I was issued a shiny new PDA a few years ago, I was saddened to realize I didn't have any to-do items to enter into the gadget - and no completed tasks either. My life is evidently too unimportant and lacking in note-down worthy contacts, appointments, and events to populate even the most basic Palm Pilot; the occasional post-it note will do. A second disappointment was that a good electronic encyclopedia/dictionary for a PDA was much harder to find than I had anticipated. There were plenty of basic student dictionaries and bilingual dictionaries, but none that contained the more obscure words that one really needs a dictionary for. And for me, it's essential to look up an unfamiliar word immediately when I come across it, reading on the train, for example, otherwise I forget about it. So, after a few failed attempts to find some use for it, I put the PDA in a drawer where it has languished ever since. Two years ago I was at Marks and Spencer in London and discovered - with a great cry of "Eureka" - the Seiko ER8000 electronic Concise Britannica and Oxford Concise Dictionary. Just £99, and I've carried it with me ever since, and have had the definitions and facts I need at hand. Rarely do I look up a word without finding it - though I admit, today I looked in vain for "rudas" (The Unspeakable Skipton), but I did find "peridot" (same book). The ER8000 runs (for years) on two AAA batteris, and is decidedly low-tech. With portable gadgets nowadays boasting gigs of memory and internet connectivity - the ER8000 is fast becoming an obsolete artifact, like an electronic typewriter. But for someone as easily distracted as me, having the internet with me at all times would be completely debilitating. In addition to the dictionary and encyclopedia, the ER8000 has synonyms, phrases, and 9000 quotations. And even some edifying games - last summer in Florence, I contentedly sat on a bench and played jumble while my wife and daughter went shopping. Buy your ER8000 today, it will soon be a thing of the past!