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Dorling Kindersley world reference Atlas

* CD-Rom for Windows Multimedia PC. Pounds 69 including VAT.From Dorling Kindersley as above.Dorling Kindersley launched its first CD-Roms last year. Universally acclaimed, they reflect the clarity of their book counterparts with ideas and concepts that can be brought to life using the latest computer technology. The company's second tranche of CDs includes more serious reference works such as this disc.

There are no elephants to amuse here - World Reference Atlas is an attempt to compete in an already crowded market. The atlas is divided into five sections, each offering a different way to obtain information. Political and physical maps of the 193 countries are provided in two sections, with access through a keyword index of places and an A-Z of countries. The fifth section enables you to scan all the photographs and video materials on the disc by country. The maps allow you to zoom in from a world view to any part of the globe and then to an individual country. At the lowest level the maps are less than totally accurate with rather imprecise positioning of features. Information on each country is in 18 categories such as economic, political and health.Dorling Kindersley has taken note of criticism of its earlier discs and it is possible to extract text and pictures although with difficulty. You have to move larger panels out of the way to get to the icon that gives you this option in a menu. Even then, you can only copy the extract and must paste it into another application or lose it.There has clearly been an effort to include up-to-date information. However, the text is often too concise sometimes not even forming full sentences. The statistical data shown in a variety of charts seems thorough, but basic information such as the year is often missing. The selection of photographs tends to be idiosyncratic.Greece is illustrated with a Roman antiquity, but no Roman sites appear under Italy.Good multimedia can be very seductive to teachers and parents wanting to use the latest technology. Dorling Kindersley has made its own reputation and no doubt this disc will sell well. However, World Atlas seems to lack a clarity of purpose which flaws it as a serious study aid.

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