This is a review of the Pocket Oxford Chinese Dictionary, 3rd ed.
This is an English-Chinese and Chinese-English dictionary. The advantage of a dictionary like this is, of course, that you can use it to translate in either direction. The drawback, which to my mind is significant, is that dictionaries like this are never really good at either the English-Chinese or the Chinese-English. Furthermore, most of the time you are either trying to write something in Chinese (in which case you just want a really good English-Chinese dictionary) or you are trying to translate something out of Chinese (and then you only want a really good Chinese-English dictionary).
An exception to the above generalization is when you are travelling in China and want a good pocket dictionary for situations in which you are stumped. Although this is entitled a "pocket" dictionary, you would need to have really big pockets: it's 5" x 8" x 1.5".
So there are some definite downsides to this dictionary. But how good are the translations? Let's compare the Oxford dictionary with the Harper Collins Chinese Concise Dictionary and see how they stack up.
On the Chinese-English side, the primary entries in both the Oxford and the Harper Collins are alphabetized by Pinyin with the lead characters in simplified. The Oxford also provides traditional forms in parentheses, but the Harper Collins does not. Both dictionaries provide a fair number of sample sentences and phrases. My offhand impression is that the Oxford sentences are frequently more idiomatic Chinese, but I'm not a native speaker, so I can't guarantee that.
Consider the entry for ZHI3, "paper." Oxford gives you the sample phrase YI4 ZHANG1 BAI2 ZHI3 (in characters without Pinyin) and translates it, "a blank sheet of paper." (Note that this tells you what the measure word for paper is too.) Oxford then gives you 10 words or expressions starting with ZHI3. In contrast, Harper Collins does not tell you what the measure word is, and gives you only five words or expressions that start with ZHI3. (Oxford, but not Harper Collins, includes the expression "paper tiger": not used much since the death of Mao, but still a useful phrase to know.) My sense is that this is representative: on Chinese-English, Oxford is the better of the two.
What about English-Chinese? Under "floor," Oxford and Harper Collins give most of the same senses, but there are some interesting differences. For example, for the first two senses, Oxford gives (1) DI4MIAN4, DI4BAN3, (2) DI3 (in characters and Pinyin). But there is no explanation in English of the fact that sense (1) refers to the floor of a house, while sense (2) refers to the floor of the ocean or a cave. There is a note in Chinese explaining the second sense, but you need to read Chinese at a second-year level (at a minimum) to understand it. On the other hand, Harper Collins gives "(of a room) DI4BAN3" and "(of sea, valley) DI3." In addition, Harper Collins explains the difference in usage of "ground floor" between British and American English. (I didn't know about that myself!) Again, I think this is representative: Harper Collins is better (at least for a beginner) on English-Chinese.
Overall, I think the Oxford dictionary is better than the Harper Collins. But you'll never find one dictionary that does both Chinese-English and English-Chinese equally well.