CASIO Ex-word 電子辞書 XD-GF6900 Review
I have now owned my Casio Ex-word for about four months, so I think it is fair to do a review.
Why this model?
There are so many models of denshi jisho that it boggles the mind. I chose this one for a few reasons.
First, the Ex-words have some great features: most now have two touch screens, one where you can write kanji and the other where you can select the words. Although having the main screen as a touch screen isn't terribly useful, being able to write kanji on the pad to look them up is incredibly useful.
I chose this model among the different Ex-words because this is the 国語 model. For the words I need a dictionary for, most are not included in the Japanese-English dictionaries anyway, so having lots of English dictionaries isn't much of a help. This is one of the pricier models, but I wanted a copy of 精選版 日本国語大辞典, the enormous, comprehensive etymological dictionary of the Japanese language.
This model claims to have about 100 books, but of course some are more useful than others. The only thing it's really missing is 広辞苑, the most famous Japanese dictionary. However, one has デジタル大辞泉 and the slightly more useful 明鏡国語辞典, which more than suffice. There is also an enormous thesaurus, a 類語 dictionary (to explain the difference in usage in similar words), a katakana spelling dictionary, a dictionary of ことわざ (proverbs), and a 四字熟語 dictionary.
For English, it includes the Oxford, Progressive, and Genius (unabridged) dictionaries, which is plenty.
Last, there are many nice little bonuses, such as books on manners, customs, an encyclopedia of Japanese history, the Japanese Britannica, medical dictionaries, poetry, books on common grammatical mistakes of native speakers, and more. There is enough reading on this device to keep you busy for a few years.
You can see the rest of the contents at the official site.
What's wrong with it?
It's expensive. That's really my only complaint. But, good things don't come cheap.
Who is it for?
I think that electronic dictionaries are primarily a tool for the advanced learner, and are not suitable for beginners. If at your level you need an English-Japanese dictionary to look up words, a free online dictionary is sufficient. The dictionary on Yahoo! Japan is perfect for this use.
Once you can read and understand Japanese newspapers, novels, etc., it's time to invest some money in an electronic dictionary. I know to many people this seems backwards, but I don't think it's cost or time effective to start using such comprehensive dictionaries until your reading comprehension is at an adult level. Until then, I think a simple dictionary is all you need.
Of course, I'm the type that buys something like this and uses it until it breaks. I can't imagine "upgrading" a dictionary. So if you're the kind of person who must always have the newest, shiniest thing, of course my advice is not for you.