CD-roms for Christmas

 

Encarta 97 (Microsoft, £49.99): An annual overhaul for the established and worthy leader of the CD rom encyclopaedias. Major developments this year include more European material (at last), links to updated material on the world wide web and an all round sharper package.

Encyclopedia of Space and the Universe (Dorling Kindersley, £39.99): Alone of the mainstream publishers, DK has developed a strong distinctive style for its CD roms, managing to impart frequently difficult information in a novel and entertaining way without trivialising it.

This CD-rom is in the mould of previous efforts such as the Science encyclopaedia and would be a wonderful boon to an inquiring mind. The package includes a booklet on related facts and figures.

Chronicle of the 21st Century (Dorling Kindersley £49.99): All news junkies will revel in this simulated news room blitz through the 20th century. The material is not treated in any great depth, but the sheer volume and variety of the century's history, and the user friendliness of the design, more than compensates for the absence of analysis.