Guide for Purchasing an Electronic Dictionary

For a comprehensive comparison of some Canon, Seiko, Sharp and Casio models, please see

For a list of recommendations and awards, please see

Good Features for your Electronic Dictionary (ED)

  • History search: Memorizes words in search history. 
  • Example sentences: Can easily confirm the word usage. 
  • Kanji radical or reading search: Can easily search for kanji you cannot read.
  • Example sentence / idiom search: Can search for example sentences and phrasal verbs / idioms (kanji compounds) etc.
  • Memory: The “credit card” size EDs do not have a large enough memory to be useful.
  • Buttons: If there are too many buttons in a small space, the ED becomes tedious to use. 
  • Screen: The screen should be large enough so the user can easily read it.
  • Price: Average ED prices range from ¥10,000 to ¥50,000. 
  • Manual: Many EDs can be purchased with both an English and a Japanese manual. 
  • Super Jump: Lets you select an entire word and look it up in another of your ED’s dictionaries. Thus you can quickly find how to pronounce it in the Japanese>Japanese dictionary and see the word’s entire English definition in the Japanese>English dictionary.
  • Ability to look up a word by how it’s written: If you see a word while reading and don’t know how it’s pronounced, you have to enter it by how it’s written – in kanji. Some electronic dictionaries will allow you to input the kanji by drawing it on the screen with a stylus (see SHARP XD-470). Most will require you to input the number of strokes / radical etc. in much the same way as a paper dictionary.

Extra Features you may want to consider when comparing models

  • Multiple dictionary search: 
    Can search multiple dictionaries (if available) in one go. 
  • Favourite dictionary save function: 
    Fast access to the dictionary/ies you often use.
  • Other Functions: 
    Most electronic dictionaries also feature items such as a calendar / appointment book, a calculator, or an alarm watch.

(Casio, 2006; Rivard, 2006; Yonally & Gilfert, 1995) 
Casio. (2006). おすすめ機能 [Electronic Version], 2007 from
Rivard, P. (2006). Electronic Dictionary Recommendation [Electronic Version], 2007 from
Yonally, D., & Gilfert, S. (1995). Electronic Dictionaries in the Classroom!? Bah, Humbug! [Electronic Version]. The Internet TESL Journal, 1 from