When I first came across the WikiReader from OpenMoko, my thought was: why would I want a device that is dedicated to Wikipedia, but not connected to the Internet? What value would such a device have?
Then I realized that this device really isn’t for people like me who have easy access to the Internet. This device is for people without connectivity, or in situations where you don’t have or want connectivity. In these situations, the Wikireader is a great reference device to have around.
The device contains 3 million topics from Wikipedia stored on a MicroSD card inside the battery compartment, which stores two AAA batteries. It has a touch screen where you can scroll the text on the screen, type in the topic you wish to look up and tap links inside Wikipedia articles. It also has a Search button where you can enter the topic you desire, a History button where you can see what topics you previously viewed, a Random button for a little bit of serendipity, and the power button on the top.
The device can be updated. As mentioned before, the contents of Wikipedia are stored on the MicroSD card. You can either take the MicroSD and update it yourself or swap the MicroSD card with a freshly updated one that OpenMoko can provide. The service costs $29 a year (plus taxes and shipping) and entitles you to two updates a year.
Having used a review unit that OpenMoko sent me, the screen on this device is kind of a letdown. The screen is passive matrix, has a horrible refresh rate, is not backlit, and is impossible to read in all but the most optimal of lighting conditions. However, if you want to bring Wikipedia to a non-computer savvy or non-connected person, this is the device to consider. This is not a device I would buy, but then again, I am not the target market for this.
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