This paper describes a comparison between online handwritten cursive word recognition using segmentation-free method and that using segmentation-based method. To search the optimal segmentation and recognition path as the recognition result, we attempt two methods: segmentation-free and segmentation-based, where we expand the search space using a character-synchronous beam search strategy. The probable search paths are evaluated by integrating character recognition scores with geometric characteristics of the character patterns in a Conditional Random Field (CRF) model. Our methods restrict the search paths from the trie lexicon of words and preceding paths during path search. We show this comparison on a publicly available dataset (IAM-OnDB).