BDicty Reader v5.4 and Beiks LexSpell for Palms OS

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, June 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Beiks LLC, go to the web site
Requires: Any PDA running Palm OS 3.5 - 5.x with sufficient free memory
MSRP: $14.95 (LexSpell U.S. English)

If definitions are to dictionaries as spelling is to comprehension, what in the world do we do with a Palm OS Handheld filled with thousands of notes, calendar entries, contacts, reviews, web pages and you name it, many of which contain spelling errors and some of which have to be beamed to others or included in larger documents? To date, there isn't a single handheld PDA bundled with either a dictionary or a spell checker. Frustrating yes, but then what would Beiks do if there wasn't this huge need for dictionaries and spelling lexicons and translation databases? Several other companies develop and market a variety of dictionaries, good and bad, but Beiks is one of the few companies that has hammered the market with so many robust, good quality products in this segment.

As Handhelds are used for more and more applications - at home, in the office, on the road, in school, for e-mail, web browsing - more and more of what we print or write on these devices is bound to be distributed in the form of messages, notes and documents. Spelling is important and all the dopey instant messaging abbreviations have to be relegated to the trash where they belong. Please.

The BDicty Reader v5.4

We've reviewed Beiks software before - the English Dictionary and the MedicineNet Pocket Drug Guide - but we've never actually focused on the BDicty Reader itself. For the uninitiated, the BDicty Reader is supplied free of charge with the majority of the 100 or so Beiks language products you can buy - with everything except the free lexicons in fact. You can also buy the reader as a standalone product and then use it with any of nearly three dozen free lexicons (currently 32 actually, covering everything from NASA acronyms, English and German irregular verbs, to a glossary of theater terms, French computer terms, name meanings, astronomy terms and you name it).

This latest version of the BDicty Reader is fully compatible with the virtual graffiti silkscreen supplied with the Sony Clié TH55, 320x480 resolution and all the nifty new features in Palm OS 5. What the BDicty Reader is not, is a replacement for the Palm Reader, MobiReader, TiBR Pro or any of the other book reader software out there. BDicty has its own set of cool features however and it's fast.

Configuring BDicty is simple. Once it's installed, tap Preferences in the Options menu and select CmdBar (Command Bar) so that you can call BDicty using the diagonal command stroke in the graffiti area (the BDicty icon appears at the end of the command bar). You can also choose to call BDicty via two different hot key combinations. Other configuration options include a setting which uses Sony high resolution fonts installed on Cliés and vertical or horizontal definition displays when using dictionary lexicons and language databases.

The latest version seems to improve slightly on the already terrific screen rendering. In fact, BDicty displays text as cleanly and clearly as any program we've seen. It's a tribute both to Beiks programmers and the vastly improved Palm OS PDA screens. BDicty automatically detects the presence in system memory or storage card of any installed Beiks databases and lexicons, making them available in the reader via drop list.


It's a spell checker designed to check the spelling in any program in which text can be entered or edited as long as the program doesn't cut itself off from the Palm operating system. The LexSpell databases - there are currently 6 available for U.S. English, British English, German, Spanish, French and Italian - are reasonably robust. The U.S. English database contains almost 100,000 words. Beiks continues to do a superb job of proofing of all its databases. After reviewing three full Beiks products, we've yet to find a spelling or grammatical error.

Configuring LexSpell is simple. The Spellcheck settings provide three different access speeds, with selections for fast (less accurate), medium (accurate) or slow (most accurate) lookups, and a choice between phonetic and typographical lookups. The accuracy setting is a bit of a misnomer in that it really determines how many word selections appear in the suggestion box. The faster the setting, the fewer suggestions. The Resident Settings are simple - turn LexSpell on or off. If it's on, using the diagonal command stroke in the graffiti screen calls the command bar and you'll see a small spell check icon which you can tap to call LexSpell and check text in the current document page or the current selection.

Cons: We have no gripes with BDicty and only a couple of gripes with LexSpell. As the LexSpell web site warns, there are Palm OS programs which just don't let LexSpell do its work. Those programs include the excellent Documents To Go among others, which is really too bad considering how widely DTG is used. A larger lookup database would be nice because as soon as we started seriously flexing the 'ol vocabulary we managed to stump the database with words such as "frenate" (var: to furnish something with a bridle), "metanoia" (a profound transformation) and "muliebrity" (having womanly qualities).

Pros: On the other hand, we found and corrected misspellings of obscurities such as "jejunum" (a small part of the intestine), googol (1 followed by 100 zeros - it's a word which curiously stumped the excellent and much larger BDicty English dictionary), "coprolite" (fossilized dung - another word which stumped the BDicty English dictionary) and "lacuna" (a missing part of a manuscript). You really need to be a Lexicographer to understand why some words are chosen for any particular database and others are not. Nonetheless, there's no doubt that the common English lexicon is thoroughly covered and it's very unlikely you'll run across problems in day-to-day notes, memos, journals and business documents. Nice online help system - brief and to the point - with clear explanations of each configuration setting. Perfect compatibility with all built-in Palm OS programs and the customized versions supplied by Sony with new Cliés and most of the agenda and time management software we tried: DateBook, Memo, ToDo, Address, Clié Organizer, DateBk5, Agendus, SuperNames and so on. Accurate, sensible spelling correction suggestions provided the word we were looking for at the top of the suggestion box about 95% of the time with a minimum of scrolling necessary to find the correct word when the first suggestion was wrong. Get it right and spell it right. BDicty and LexSpell make a nice pair. Recommended.

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