Focus Multimedia – The Hutchinson Encyclopedia 2001 review

National Curriculum-friendly encyclopaedia
Photo of Focus Multimedia – The Hutchinson Encyclopedia 2001

The Hutchinson effort is acknowledged as one of the heavyweight contenders for the multimedia encyclopaedia top spot, and the year 2001 version brings with it the usual round of enhancements. It sings, it dances, it juggles flaming sticks and it even makes your tea if you ask it nicely. Okay, maybe not; we’ll have to wait a few more years for the encyclopaedia-teasmaid hybrid that everyone dreams of. That we dream of.

Grasping back for reality, what this new incarnation of Hutchinson’s actually does boast in numerical terms is well over 1,000 new images, over 600 new web links, 7,000 quiz questions and a whole set of new videos. Which is certainly a good start. Naturally the actual content has been updated too, with added entries accounting for happenings over the last year, new personalities that have hit the world stage and so on.

The content has also been tuned to match the National Curriculum, with a whole host of links which highlight the articles that correspond to key stages 2, 3 and 4 – in other words this is the most school pupil-friendly encyclopaedia yet.

All of the encyclopaedia’s entries are substantially cross-referenced, as you would expect. You can even double click on any word on screen and the dictionary will automatically pop up with a definition. The interface is pretty well designed and there are easy to use features for navigation such as a timeline, its only real flaw being that some text windows are ponderously long scrolling affairs.

There are also loads of new interactive sections and tables bunged in for good measure, along with up to date featured essays on contemporary topics such as GM foods.

Otherwise, it’s essentially the same recipe as the previous version, with the Internet Explorer-style main interface including a full system for bookmarking your favourite bits of the encyclopaedia. There’s an atlas, lots of snippet facts in a ‘Did You Know’ style, famous quotations, educational quizzes and more. Basically there’s masses of content here, with over 6,000 links to web sites as back-up resources to the main program.

Company: Focus Multimedia

Contact: 01889 570156

Hutchinson 2001 carries the same level of quality over from the previous version with enough added extras to keep anyone happy, and now it's a particularly strong family product with the added support for the National Curriculum. Finally, the price point is very reasonable. Nice one, Focus.