What are the best flashcard programs for studying chinese? A Pleco vs Anki vs Skritter comparison
If I may expand upon my initial opinion - I've used both Anki and Pleco (and Skritter), but I have to say that I much prefer Pleco. It's so easy to make flashcards on the go from words you've looked up, or words in documents that you've saved, and Pleco's built in dictionaries allow you to switch between many Chinese-English dictionaries as well as Chinese-Chinese dictionaries if you get up to that point. And Pleco is strictly for Chinese learning, whereas Anki is more for general flashcard use, so Pleco naturally has a ton of Chinese specific functions that you won't find in Anki. It's the difference between using a tool made for Chinese vs using a tool that is made to be general. There paid add ons that allow Chinese speech for all of your cards, there is Chinese character OCR (I don't actually find it useful, but others may), there are really nice brush script type fonts, even an optional dictionary if you are interested in Chinese medicine, and a slew of other great Chinese specific tools. And I think the integration of all of the tools is excellent. You can look up words and make flashcards without ever exiting the reader for example.
I think that the free version of Pleco is worth downloading at least to check it out. Its available in the app store for iOS and android. The iOS version had a big update a while ago and is amazing. I think the add ons are worth purchasing, and if you want to get the flashcard module, if I'm not mistaken I think you have to purchase that. I think the free version is just the dictionary, but its been many years, so I don't quite remember, and it may have changed since I first got it.
Anki on the desktop is free, but if you want the iOS mobile version, last time I checked it was something like $25. I think the flashcard module in Pleco is about $15. I did not like that at least when I used it, you had to add all of the flashcards on the Anki program on the computer. And I also had some issues with syncing between devices, but that may have been ironed out. With Pleco, I do all of my flashcards on my iPhone, it is so convenient to take around and study during the short 5 min breaks you find throughout the day. You can add and change flashcards on the go, which I don't think you can do with Anki.
I think the only reason I would consider Anki is if you HAVE to have a desktop app to go with your mobile app. And to be honest, I think it is easier and more convenient to have all your flashcards on one device (my iPhone). I've never felt limited not having a desktop app with Pleco. I felt annoyed being forced to build my flashcard deck on the desktop in Anki, even though I tend not to study on the desktop, but rather on the go on my phone. And flashcard making is much more automated in Pleco than it is in Anki.
Skritter also has a computer interface as well as a mobile app. I like Skritter, and you can take a look at it as an option, but I would only recommend it if you are serious about learning to Write chinese characters. Otherwise, Pleco is in my opinion better and more complete.