July 05, 2009

Review of Canon Wordtank V90 Japanese - English - Chinese dictionary

Review – Canon V90 Wordtank
Japanese - English - Chinese Dictionary

By JapaneseCustomer.com

Native English speakers studying Japanese are always looking for the best tools to help them study Japanese. In this article we review the Canon V90 Wordtank Japanese dictionary and discuss the pro’s and cons.

Where to buy

These days you are best looking for electrical products on the Internet as you can search fast and get a range of prices but it still pays to visit the shop, learn more about the company selling the item and to see the product first hand. When buying online make sure to ask if the model is new or used, some companies sell new but used dictionaries with short warranties. If you have a Japanese friend ask them to help by searching for the product in Japan on Japanese websites such as Amazon Japan, Yahoo Japan and other sites to find the best price.

Whats in the box

Inside the box is :
  • A manual but it only has a few pages in English. For a better explanation in English contact Canon for a copy of the V80 Wordtank manual which has a more detailed English explanation of the basic functions.
  • A pair of headphones, 2 x AAA sized batteries

Using the dictionary

First step is to put the batteries in the rear and to set up the menu.You can have either Japanese or English which is handy. For native English speakers the Genius Japanese – English dictionary is a good place to start for looking up words. The dictionary allows you to input in romaji and as you type the letters appear at the top of the screen and a list of close words appear until there is a word match. For example: to look up the word "tekito" (measurable) you just touch the Genius Japanese –English blue menu button and it takes you directly to the dictionary, then type in the word. It provides the word in hiragana, kanji and an English definition. Under the definition you have a symbol in the shape of a pencil. If you touch it with the stylus it expands to show the sentence written in Japanese and with an English translation below.

Features for native English speakers
  • Stylus – that allows you to write characters on the screen as you see them written.
  • Jump button that allows you to jump to other dictionaries
  • Word memo - Memory for saving words you have looked up
  • Example sentences of how to use the word in Japanese script
  • Japanese – English, English Japanese (Genius) English dictionary and thesaurus (Oxford), Katakana dictionary, Kanji dictionary, Super Daijirin dictionary, Four Kanji Phrases and Proverbs and sayings.
  • Approximately 90 hours battery life and sturdy construction.

Road Test


  • The stylus is very accurate when you write a kanji on the screen
  • The Word Memo is a handy way to review what you have studied at the end of a session
  • Stylish design in matt black
  • Allows you to enlarge the size of the characters on the screen
  • Jump function and wild card are useful
  • If your partner is Japanese they can also use the dictionary
  • Genius, Japanese - English, Concise Katakana, Kanjigen for word classification
  • word classification (noun, verb, adjective adverb)
  • has a lot of Japanese grammar definitions & is great if you also want to learn Chinese
  • low price compared to other alternatives & can be easily carried.

  • large compared to other models and heavy (but sturdy)
  • screen not back lit & slow to start up.
  • when you enter basic kanji words, eg, two kanji using the stylus pen the dictionary of words is limited in English mode, ok in Japanese mode.
  • Instruction book in English doesn’t fully explain all functions and symbols used on the screen
  • When looking up kanji by on and kun, kanji is limited in ENglish mode but ok in Japanese mode

Overall summary

This model has 21 dictionaries included and is advertised to Japanese customers as a dictionary for learning Chinese.

It is not built for native English speakers learning Japanese but if you can bear the limitations it can still be of use to your learning goals.

This dictionary is really suitable for intermediate and advanced students of Japanese (level N3,N2 & N 1 JLPT ) who can read hiragana, katakana, have an understanding of grammar and can read full Japanese sentences. It is not really suitable for beginners with little language experience.

It is not the perfect tool but a tool that will improve your ability to look up vocabulary, grammar, and reading over time. As with all new items you need to allow up to a month of daily use to really get use to it. It is cheap for a Japanese electronic dictionary and can be easily carried compared to paper dictionaries. So it is ideal for use outside of home or the office

  • CNNMoney.com review here
  • Forum review of V90 here
  • Japan Shop Review here

Study Aid:

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