This review appears in the October 06 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents.

A few months ago, we told you about an exciting program that aimed to bring you the power of the web without the need to be online.

You simply download the free application and add 'web packs' to your hard drive. These packs consist of collections of internet pages on a particular topic. Pages are checked for relevance and depth of coverage to ensure that they take up as little room on your hard drive as possible.

Since then, Webaroo has created packs covering such diverse subject areas as health, JK Rowling and cocktails. Or, alternatively, Wikipedia.

The Wikipedia pack consists of a wide selection of pages from the popular online encyclopedia. Unsurprisingly, given the depth of the source material, this isn't one of Webaroo's shortest downloads – you should make room on your hard drive for around 6GB. It'll take some time to download, so set your PC to perform overnight.

However, the product works simply and flawlessly. The front end is reminiscent of a typical search engine and allows you to browse topic headings, or type in a search enquiry.

As an encyclopedia, it's fairly good. It lacks the authority of the Encyclopædia Britannica, but the entries are often well-written. For the sake of brevity, most of the pictures have been cut out. You can access quick links to the images, but unlike the rest of the program, you need to be online to make use of them.

We might query the way in which entries are sorted, putting Hercules the TV character above Hercules the mythological figure, for example. But this program should prove useful for holidaymakers and for parents who wish to retain the services of an encyclopedia while cutting out untethered internet access. It even updates itself when you go online.

Webaroo Wikipedia: Specs

  • 100MHz Pentium processor
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • 1GB hard disk space
  • IE 6.0/Firefox 1.5
  • internet connection
  • 100MHz Pentium processor
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • 1GB hard disk space
  • IE 6.0/Firefox 1.5
  • internet connection

OUR VERDICT

It's not the most comprehensive encyclopedia out there, but this is still a good product. If you can spare the drive space and download time, you'll find it useful when web access isn't an option.

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