Logos is to Bible software what John Lewis is to shopping – wonderful choice, but sometimes bewildering. It has far more than you could ever need, and often more than you can really afford. In fact, Logos has almost every resource offered by all the other publishers combined (except Pradis), and plenty more besides.
There are two major downsides. One is cost. The most expensive “base” package in Logos is Scholar’s Library Gold, which costs almost £1,000, and even that includes ‘only’ 700 of the 9,000 titles available. The rest have to be added at additional cost. Having said that, few users will need Scholar’s Library Gold. A far cheaper option is the Bible Study Library at £180. This still includes 18 English Bible versions, and over 150 other resources, which are a nice mix of contemporary and historical.The second downside is complexity. To get the most out of Logos you have to understand how best to use it, and this will require an investment of time. Don’t misunderstand me. Logos have made the software incredible easy to use ‘out of the box’. You can just type in a bible verse, topic, or even a Greek/Hebrew word, and very soon all your resources will be searched, with the results presented in a very readable format. There’s plenty you’ll be able to do with Logos without learning all its quirks and powerful features – it’s just that if you do learn them you’ll be able to do a whole lot more. Thankfully Logos offer a great deal of help through their excellent telephone support and online tutorials.
Verdict: If your budget will stretch to it, and you’re willing to commit some time to learn the software, Logos is about as good as it gets. It’s particularly suitable if you think your study will deepen in time and you will later want access to more thorough resources. But if you struggle with computers, or aren’t able to commit the time to learn, you may be better off with one of the alternatives.
- WORDsearch 8, £35 to £350: WORDsearch is simple, has dozens of resources, and is very expandable (though like all packages apart from Logos, few scholarly resources are available). A typical package is the “Thompson Chain-Reference Leaders Library” which can be downloaded online for about £150. It includes 16 Bible versions (including KJV, ESV, NIV and NKJV) and 134 other reference works, almost all of which are out of copyright ‘classics’. There are hundreds more resources available, many of which are recent publications. However, these add-ons can be expensive – the 47-volume set of Welwyn commentaries is £350.
- PocketBible, £35-£135: Despite the name, PocketBible is available for desktop computers, as well as pocket computers (you need a Palm, iPhone or Windows Mobile device), and resources can be shared between the desktop and pocket versions. It offers excellent value – even the cheapest package includes the NIV and 12 other Bibles, though there are not many other resources available. PocketBible is relatively simple to use, partly because it has a fixed display. This makes it easy to find your resources (they’re always in the same place!), but it can be annoying when you can’t stop resources you don’t need cluttering up your display. If you value simplicity above all, it could be the right choice.
- QuickVerse, £20 – £550: A terrific modern interface, and many excellent resources, even the mid-range QuickVerse Deluxe (£65) which has 226 books including the ESV and NKJV. However, it has several annoying quirks and is missing some important resources (including Calvin’s commentaries). As one reviewer put it, “QuickVerse is very much like a few girls I dated in college. Very attractive, but the more time you spend with them the more you wish you were with someone else.”
- PC Study Bible, £35 – £400: PC Study Bible is a reasonably number of resources (between 51 and 147), most of which are actually quite useful. The interface makes it easy to find cross-references between resources, though it is a little idiosyncratic in places. It’s also rather overpriced, though thankfully the publisher often has sales, so if you buy at the right time, you could get some easy to use software at a good price.
- Pradis, prices vary: Pradis is a frustrating product created by Zondervan. It is only averagely competent, and its purpose seems to be largely to keep Zondervan electronic titles in-house. This means Pradis has several exclusive resources, but it also means it is lacking resources from several other publishers (it doesn’t even have the ESV or NKJV, for example). Best avoided if possible.