Good answers so far, I’ll have to investigate the suggestions you’ve all given.
I tried Trados once for a huge job a couple of years ago, and just didn’t like it. My sense is that if you don’t get large volumes of repetitive text or annual updates for standardized documents, and if they don’t come in editable format (i.e. a Word document or the like), then the expense for Trados can’t really be justified. I get most of my work in PDF files made from graphic captures, and since OCR software for Chinese just isn’t that good (cue Ironlady’s protest here?) I have no use for Trados. Or any other CAT tool.
I use, and swear by, the indexed search software ISYS:desktop. It’s so expensive they don’t even list the price on the website, as they expect that only corporate customers will be interested. If I recall it was in the neighbourhood of US$700 a few years ago, but I got a deal at half price because I attempted to get a few other translators to buy it at the same time (they didn’t, but ISYS was nice to me all the same). I use it to search my homemade glossaries and other priceless information I have stored on my hard drive. It’s beautiful in those situations when you come across an arcane sentence construction you translated once in 2002 but don’t recall exactly how you did it, just that you did it well.
When I fire up my computer in the morning I click on Mozilla and instantly get ten windows in tabbed browsers:
I think the best advice anyone could give you is to keep your own glossaries in various subject areas. Dictionaries are great, but they will never be comprehensive or all things to everyone. You cannot rely only on them. I rarely look at any of the hard copy dictionaries I’ve accumulated over the years, mostly because the specialized scientific or technical terms that might throw me for a loop are never in them, but must be deduced by intensive googling in both English and Chinese. You know what I use most? Number 6 on my list. Hundreds of times per day I find myself either checking on the precise meaning of a term in English I intend to use, or finding synonyms for repetitive terms (one level in at Dictionary.com). Precision of meaning and expression is paramount.