Olive Tree Bible Reader 2.20H

As a Christian, one of my daily goals is to always have a copy of Scripture with me or readily available. This goal has been easier to accomplish thanks to Olive Tree Bible Software’s Bible Reader 2.20H. Olive Tree's Bible Reader is a customizable and easy-to-use application that has a variety of Bible translations available, including original Hebrew and Greek texts. Further, the application’s small footprint makes it Handheld PC-friendly along with great customer support available online and via email.

Bible Reader is a self-contained file of just under 470 KB. It can be installed either by the Olive Tree Installer program or can be installed via Active Sync (via the Synchronize Files folder). If it is installed via Active Sync, I suggest you create a directory in the root of you HPC (named Bible, for example) and move the application into it. From there, you can easily create a shortcut to your desktop or to Program directory off your Start menu.

With the reader installed, a Bible translation is needed. The beauty of Olive Tree’s system is that with one application (the Reader) you can view any of the Bible translations they have available. Currently there are over 30 translations available with nearly half of them free-of-charge. Olive Tree does charge for versions that they have to pay royalties to have available. These range from $8 to $30 depending on the translation.

In addition to translations, Olive Tree also has Bible Dictionaries, Strong’s Concordances (in KJV and NASB), Lectionaries, Devotionals and over 15 different language translations available. Further, Hebrew and Greek translations and Grammatical Concordances are available as well. These too vary in price depending on the translation and/or tool. For complete information on all the translations and tools available for the Olive Tree Bible Reader, please see their Bible Software section of their site.

Once a translation is downloaded, it can be installed in any location. By default, Bible Reader will look for translations in My Documents. However, this parameter is adjustable within the application allowing for users to put the translation(s) in any folder, including Storage Cards. On average, each translation will occupy 1.5MB of space.

The User Interface of the Reader is clean and simple with useful options available via an icon toolbar or the edit menu. To change from one translation to another, tap the translations name in the left-hand corner of the taskbar. This brings up a common Explorer dialog box of where the translations are stored on the HPC. Double-tap the new translation and it is displayed.

Olive Tree’s Bible Reader User Interface
Olive Tree’s Bible Reader User Interface

Navigating through a book can be done in multiple different ways. The first is by using the red arrows of the toolbar. This will advance a screen-at-a-time which will vary based on the size of the font used (this is setup in the Preferences which are discussed later). It also allows users to move backwards a verse at a time. To navigate from chapter-to-chapter, use the blue arrows on the toolbar. Finally, navigation can also be done to different parts of the Bible by tapping the books name in the taskbar. This will bring up a dialog box which will allow users to tap the book, chapter and verse they wish to navigate too. Like other features, this ability to navigate is also customizable depending on the user’s preferences.

Selecting a book, chapter and verse can be done by tapping the book name in the taskbar
Selecting a book, chapter and verse can be done by tapping the book name in the taskbar

Another important feature of Bible Reader is the ability to find words or phrases quickly through the Search feature. By tapping the first icon on the toolbar or via the Edit menu, users can enter a word or phrase to find its occurrences throughout Scripture. Further, these searches can be selected to look through the entire Bible, one of the testaments or a single book.

Bible Reader’s Search function allows for quick searches for words or phrases throughout the Bible
Bible Reader’s Search function allows for quick searches for words or phrases throughout the Bible

The Search feature also allows for a tabulation to be done on any word. By example, if a user want to know how many times the word “Jesus” appears in the New Testament, users type Jesus into the search, select the second search field (Mat – Rev) then tap List. This will produce a list of all the verses in the New Testament that have Jesus in them. This ability is particularly handy for Bible Study Groups or Sunday school class members during their studies.

A list of the number of occurrences of any word in Scripture can be created easily in the Search function
A list of the number of occurrences of any word in Scripture can be created easily in the Search function

The ability to bookmark is another important feature that is available to users. Bookmarks can be added via the checkmark icon on the tool bar or via the Edit menu, allowing users for quick access to key verses during Bible studies, Worship or Sunday school. To add the bookmark, make sure that the verse you intend to mark is at the top of the user interface. Then tap the icon and tap Add.

Adding Bookmarks is easy and editable via the add and delete buttons
Adding Bookmarks is easy and editable via the add and delete buttons

As indicated before, almost every preference in Bible Reader is customizable via the Preferences menu off the Edit menu. This one screen allows users to adjust how verse find is done (three tap as demonstrated earlier, single-tap or via a list) as well as where Bible translations are stored on the HPC. Translations can be stored in any directory on the device or a Storage Card. Other visual changes can be made such as the font and font size along with the formatting of the text and the number of verses that are scrolled at a time.

One screen in Bible Reader allows for easy changing of all preferences
One screen in Bible Reader allows for easy changing of all preferences

For more advanced biblical students or ministers, Bible Reader has Hebrew and Greek translations available. One of these is a Grammar Concordance which allows for definitions of selected words to be shown. This is particularly handy for those learning the mechanics of the languages as well as those who need quick references to the parts of speech that are used in a particular verse. With the Grammar Concordance, the screen is split into two sections with the translation and speech information presenting in the lower section. Note that a Greek or Hebrew font, which is included with each of these translations, must be installed in the /windows/fonts directory of the HPC.

Bi-level interface of the Grammar Concordance
Bi-level interface of the Grammar Concordance

Overall Bible Reader is an excellent Bible application despite some of its graphical challenges. Most of the dialog boxes presented does not properly fit the 640x240 screen size of the HPC. In the vast majority of cases, this will present little more than a visual annoyance. In future releases, it would be nice to see this corrected. Another feature that is sorely lacking is the ability to add notes to text. For many who have carried a cherished Bible with them for many years, notes fill the pages. The ability to add these types of notes in Bible Reader would make it much easier for people to bring their HPCs to church or to Bible Study Groups.

Still, with these shortcomings, the application is extremely stable and easy to use. Olive Tree’s web-based FAQs and support are excellent with responses happening in a matter of hours, not days. Also, when a purchase is made through their website, users have a Customer Only section which has a library of all the translations or tools purchases they have made. This is particularly handy in the event of having to reload your HPC and not having the install files saved on your PCs hard disk. At the time of this review, Olive Tree did have a new Beta version of the Reader for HPC available in their Beta section. Be sure to watch this area for new releases as they become available.

Olive Tree’s Bible Reader is free for download from the Olive Tree website. Remember that in edition to the Reader, a translation must also be downloaded or purchased. Whether you are a new Christian or old, Bible Reader is an excellent edition to your Handheld PC and will give you the opportunity to have Scripture with you no matter where you are at the time.

System Requirements:

Windows CE 2.0 and above
SH3, SH4, StrongARM, MIPS, XScale

Rating  
Cost: 5 Star Rating: Exceptional
Usability: 4 Star Rating: Recommended
Built-In helps: 2.0 Star Rating: Weak
Customer Service: 5 Star Rating: Exceptional
Overall: 4 Star Rating: Recommended

Olive Tree Bible Reader can be found at the following URL.
http://www.olivetree.com/

Clinton Fitch
Chief Reviews Editor