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Great Speaking Electronic Dictionary but Questionable Durability
on September 24, 2009
I've worked with 3 different Franklin electronic dictionaries over the last 15 years including an older Language Master and a Bookman unit that supports book cards. Compared to these units, the SCD-2100 was quite a departure in terms of form factor but the basic interface remains familiar and intuitive. The first thing that jumps out at me is just how tiny it is! The pictures don't do a good job representing the size...the unit is only about 4 inches wide. Despite the small size, however, the keys don't really feel any smaller and the screen is actually much larger and higher-resolution than the old 3-line display models. Also, compared to the old versions, the SCD-2100 is also very speedy when it comes to spelling corrections and normal operations.
Unfortunately, the fit and finish feels cheap and it takes considerable effort to even put the battery cover on properly. (If you don't put in on just right, it will interfere with the opening and closing of the screen past vertical.) I also noticed that the plastic casing doesn't feel very rigid, so I wonder how long it will survive in a backpack. Considering how much this thing costs, it's disappointing that the old units appear to be better in this respect. My final complaint is that the speaker isn't particularly loud, though there is a headphone jack.
The SCD-2100 has a very long feature-list and a few surprises that I did not expect. The main reason I bought this was for the Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, which in my opinion, provides vastly richer definitions for many more words compared to lesser models. (Instead of generic single-word definitions, the Collegiate version enables me to appreciate the nuances between similar words.)
It appears that in an effort to slap on as many features as possible, this device has now become pretty travel friendly. In addition to its small size and basic 5-language translator (English/Spanish/Italian/French/German), the unit also performs basic unit conversions (temperature/weight/liquid volume/lengths) and has calculator that can do currency conversions. (There's also functionality for inverses and square roots...) The only annoyance with so many operating modes is that more button presses are required to get to where you want to be. For example, to look up a word, you need to first power up the unit and then select the dictionary from the menu (which is thankfully at the top). Franklin has made an effort to alleviate this however, with the use of 5 function keys that allow you to switch between modes without going to the menu, though you cannot program the keys.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with the device. Performance is much improved compared to previous models and is several times faster than using the Collegiate Dictionary on a book-card. Also, the new small form factor doesn't really compromise on screen-size or quality.
No Book-man Card Slot
Won't dictate bad words, but they're in the dictionary
No speech support for 5-language translator
Organizer appears to be able to hold about 300 entries. Entries were retained during a battery change (~30 seconds).
Keys are rubber and make distinct clicks when pressed
Uses 2x AAA