Thankfully, gone are the days of having to search for facts in the reference area of the local library as you can now find the entire Britannica reference suite on one handy sized DVD.

Essentially an upgrade of last year’s version, there have been a few tweaks that make it easier to load and search. The first thing we noticed was how much quicker it was to install, which may be a small point but it means you won’t find it as resource hungry so it’ll run on even the most basic of computers.

To make the most of the package you’ll need to be connected to the Internet, as the software links with online databases to help widen the search possibilities.

In keeping with last year’s version, you’ll find the suite is broken into three sections, the most advanced for adults, an intermediary for secondary school students, and entry-level for junior users. Whichever you choose the interface is the same, with a search engine as well as an alphabetical lost of entries on the left-hand side of the page. Perhaps the main problem with this suite is that it tries to hard to be streamlined, which means you don’t find yourself wandering about sections, which is something Microsoft Encarta almost encourages, as it allows you to read around a subject much more freely.

It’s a bit daunting to use at first, as you need to know what you’re looking for. If it’s content you’re after, then you won’t be disappointed, as you’ll find 23,500 photos, maps, videos, sound clips, and animations to accompany the entries. This may sound like a lot but when you think there are more than 100,000 entries, it soon becomes quite a text heavy search. Among other resources within Encyclopedia Britannica 2007 are its rebuilt pop-up dictionary and thesaurus.

If you can’t find what you need on the disk, there is also a database of over 150,000 trusted websites that can be connected to, which can help you find information.

Along with the DVD, you’ll also get a year’s worth of online updates, which can be set up to download automatically. You can also check the website to see if there are any other updates which may not be included in the scheduled download.

Price when reviewed:

Encyclopaedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite 2007 isn’t a bad tool for a family to have as it certainly helps with homework topics. The fact that Britannica is far more text based than the likes of Encarta, means it can come across as staid and quite heavy going but if you can persevere with its awkward interface you can usually get the information you need.