Published on February 14th, 2010 | by Greg0
The Complete National Geographic- Now With 100% Less Paper
If you are anything like the staff here, you have fond memories of boxes and boxes filled full of National Geographic magazines. Sure, you may have started off mostly looking at the pictures, perhaps more closely on those Valentine’s Days when you may have been alone and young. And who can forget the map inserts? Easily the coolest wall decorations until music and concert posters took their place, they still rank among the best illustrations of various time periods and regions. However, we confess to having long ago sold off our collection and misplacing the map inserts. Though garage sales and the local library are certain to turn them up, magazines tend to be heavy, and many of the best issues are harder to find.
That’s why we were thrilled to find out about the Complete National Geographic on a 160 GB Hard Drive. Also available in a set of 6 DVDs, the hard drive version is clearly superior- while you can copy the contents of the DVDs to your hard drive, it takes a very long time, and the hard drive version is fast, easier to carry and share. And, somewhat oddly, only 60GB of the space is actually used for content, so you do have some extra space for all of the updates and whatever else you can think of. They even claim that purchasers will be able to freely download future updates covering recent issues; one covering 2009 should be available later this Spring.
The browsing interface uses Adobe’s Air and looks quite fetching, similar to a cover flow interface you may have seen elsewhere. It’s fairly intuitive, but unfortunately offers a limited and fairly annoying search function that is a bit hard to use for research. On the other hand, the overview tools are great- you can move through a globe-like map, select places of interest and easily see their coverage over the years. It’s a lot of fun to see how writing and photography of a region has shifted. Another thing we liked are the ads- all of the original ones included, for those who like nostalgia with their essays.
120 years is a long time, and a lot of material to cover, and National Geographic does a fine job of presenting it all. The photography is excellent in high resolution and there are some cute bonuses like a trivia game, should you need anything else to serve as a time sink. Serving as a backup hard drive and offering you more photos and advertisements and articles than you can ever read, it’s perfect gift for the traveler in your family. $200, available directly from them online.