This compendium might be reaching for the stars, but in my view it would be preposterous to grant it five stars. As a long-time reader of the print edition I unfortunately have some reservations about the interface.
You don't need a state-of-the-art computer to run the programme. Standard installation requires no fancy settings and goes without glitches. You insert the first disc and get 15Mb of Adobe Air on your hard disk followed by a hefty 170Mb of National Geographic stuff. Right from the start you are invited to proceed with product updates. I might have hit a busy time on the net and that downloading process took ages, but it worked.
On an XP system at any rate you don't get the whole set of discs copied on your drive during the installation process and you are not being offered a myriad of installation options either. So far so good. Well, each of the six discs is packed with almost 8Gb of data, so that transferring the lot could already take quite a while if it had to be done. Handling these few DVDs will also be more convenient than coping with the dozens of CDs in the previous edition. Digging all the way down to the bottom of the cardboard box you will also find a bonus DVD offering a nifty sample of National Geographic video with behind the scenes stuff and photographic advice.
On a 19" screen with resolution set at 1024x768 pixels I find the text of the articles quite slurry. Nothing to do with the crisp type found in the magazine. Using the magnifying glass is a must but does not increase sharpness of course. Resetting the magnifying factor each time you turn a page is tiresome in the long run. Now what bothers me more is that no button allows you to use text or picture rotation. So you end up doing some gymnastics to look at pictures or text portions displayed the other way. I guess it will reduce the risk of developing a stiff neck when you sit for hours in front of the screen, an unintended but welcome feature for the health-conscious.
Considering the impressive amount of data presented in this edition, the search function will be of great use at all times. Up to now I have encountered no annoying dark spots and got to where I wanted to get without any particular trouble. It remains to be seen whether refined searches will give the expected good results too.
I won't even discuss the price. A plain bargain, when you consider the hours (should I say years) of fascinating reading material National Geographic packed into that box the size of two standard paperbacks with room to spare.
And for those of you who wish to get it from the horses's mouth, National Geographic has this link to the product: [...]