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WikiReader by Openmoko puts Wikipedia in your hand

Updated on December 3, 2009

Wikipedia definitely has both a good and bad reputation.  After all, it is essentially one big database that essentially anyone could add to, but there were many flaws found.  It eventually became popular enough so that the editors addressed the issues, and it still remains a place where young people everywhere go for basic information. 

I have used it many a time, and as the entries are usually the first thing that comes up whenever I am using a search engine to find out a definition of a word.  Of course, I usually take a Wikipedia definition to be as trustworthy as a printed encyclopedia reference.  You know how old encyclopedia articles eventually go out of date?  I just look at every Wikipedia entry as an article waiting to be out-of-date. 

Openmoko has recently created a device known as the WikiReader that allows the user to have “Wikipedia in your pocket”.  I suppose that you could probably get the same thing from your average smartphone, but then you would have to pay carrier fees.  I had a chance to try it out for myself, and discovered that it is a non-connected device that uses no Wi-Fi or cellular phone network.  It has nothing in it but memory to hold its 3 million entries.  Now, you are probably wondering how up-to-date this information is.  Well, I checked, and Michael Jackson is dead.  For a low price of $29, you can get annual updates.  Think of it as getting a new set of encyclopedias every year.  I mean, you have a new encyclopedia with new information, but mostly info that never changes. 

It has three buttons, with the first for search.  The WikiReader has a touchscreen controller with a touchpad.  Just type in whatever subject you want, and hit the search button and you’ll see a list of options.  Touch the specific subject that you want, and read.  You can use the finger to scroll, and I will have to say that it kinds of blurry when you’re scrolling up and down. 

Next to the Search button is the History button that shows you what subjects you checked out in the past.  Think of it as a feature that turns any reading entry into something that is an automatic Bookmark.  There is also a random button that does nothing but spew out some random entry.  I’m not certain what that button is for.  Think of it as opening up a set of encyclopedias on some random page. 

The WikiReader is available for $99, and requires 2 AA batteries to function. 


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