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Handmark Bible

Thu Aug 18, 2005 - 2:14 PM EDT - By James Hromadka


As I have gotten older, I don't go to church nearly as much as I did when I grew up living with my parents. On the occasions that I do go to church, I often forget to bring my Bible along. I had been using My Bible, but I then heard about Handmark Bible, an SD card with eleven different translations.


When I received Handmark Bible, after opening its attractive DVD case, I was surprised to see both a CD and an SD card. For some reason, the SD card has 11 Bible versions, while the CD includes 16 versions. Below is a table of the included Bible translations. Versions in red are only available if you install them from CD.

Classic King James
New King James
Latin Vulgate
Weymoth New Testament Translation American Standard
International Standard
God's Word
World English

1910 Louis Segond (French)
1912 Luther (German)
1909 Reina-Valera (Spanish)

John Darby's New Translation

Modern King James
Young's Literal Translation
Literal International Translation

The main reason to use the SD version versus just buying the CD version is to save on space. The application is about 450KB, and the 16 Bible translations total to 20MB. I don't always need to have access to the Bible (shame on me), otherwise I'd just keep it on an SD expansion card. Thus this review will focus on the Bibles that come on the SD card.


When you insert the SD card, the application name is BibleR (hereafter BibleReader), which is licensed from Olive Tree Software. The default color scheme is a little garish for my tastes, so the first thing you will probably do is make a trip to Options | Preferences | Fonts/Colors. I went with blue text on a white background, but with a 256-color palette to choose from, there are plenty of options.

There are twelve different Preference screens, which are too many to fully cover in a review so I will hit the main ones. The Desktop Preference has different icon sets that BibleReader uses. You can even have a search box on the screen at all times. I used the default "Gaeta" one, and that is what you will see in the screenshots. There are six different Desktop sets in all.

You can adjust what happens when you scroll with the Treo's navigator buttons, tap on the screen, or press the Treo's hardware buttons. I like the option to leave the last line of text from the previous screen so you don't get lost when reading. The Verse Display preference lets you have each verse start a new line or be in paragraph form.

The Treo's keyboard offers some nice shortcuts as well. W toggles to/from splitscreen mode, F brings up the Search screen, and Backspace/Spacebar go back/forward one chapter. I found a full listing at this FAQ page. One nasty key is J, which seems to freeze BibleReader completely. If you accidently do this, press the Treo's Home button to exit the application.


When reading the Bible, you can switch among translations by tapping the translation name in the titlebar or going into Tools | List of Bibles. Switch books of the Bible by tapping the book/verse or going into Tools | Verse Chooser. The books of the Bible are color-coded, and unfortunately you must tap on a book instead of selecting with the navigator buttons. You can either go directly to the chosen book of the Bible or specify the chapter and verse, which is handy when you want to read a quick passage that the Pastor mentions during a sermon.

The list of Bibles is not nicely formatted and seems to be the actual filenames. Here is a table of the names and what Bibles they mean:
Shortname Bible
Asv American Standard Version
BibleR351e015.prc Not used (application file)
BibleReaderHelp Help file
French1910LSg 1910 Louis Segond (French)
German1912Lut 1912 Luther (German)
GodsWord God's Word
ISV International Standard Version
Kjv King James Version
Nkjv New King James Version
SpanishRV09 1909 Reina-Valera (Spanish)
Vulgate Latin Vulgate
Web World English Bible
Wey Weymouth New Testament
I didn't think the splitscreen feature would be that useful, but it is great for getting a better understanding of a particular verse. The default is two windows, but you can have three different translations on screen at once. As you read the Bible, the second window changes with you. As my church normally uses the King James Version, I use that as my main Bible, but if I am reading and find a verse that is difficult to understand, I press W to bring up a different translation and read what I need, then press W again to go back to single-window mode.

Searching can be as easy or as advanced as you want. There are three search modes (Basic/Simple/Advanced), and all of them let you specify which books of the Bible to search. If you know the exact passage, a Simple search is best, while a Basic search is useful if you are looking for any of the specified words. It doesn't take too long to search either. Searching for "loved the world" in the entire Bible took about 25 seconds to complete. Bookmarking is also a nice feature.

One feature I miss from My Bible is being able to type a number and jumping to that chapter. My Bible also doesn't throw so many options at the user. Normally "more is better," but in BibleReader the number of options can be overwhelming. I just want a Bible! For Treo users, not being able to navigate dialogue boxes using the navigator buttons is annoying, especially when searching or selecting a book of the Bible. Comparing to a traditional Bible, it would be nice if the words of Christ were in red.

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