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Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Put Wikipedia in your pocket

October 14, 2009 by Robin Parrish  
Filed under Electronics

Wikipedia is arguably the world’s greatest encyclopedia. Its most famous attribute — that anyone can go in at any time and add or change an entry — has worked in its favor, making it extensive and exhaustive. A company called Openmoko believes that Wikimedia is so useful, there could be a need for an inexpensive device dedicated solely to reading Wikimedia’s 3 million+ topics.

It’s called the WikiReader, and it’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It has just three buttons (search, history, and random), but features a touchscreen with a virtual keyboard for searching through entries. Most impressively, the Openmoko claims that the WikiReader will run off just 2 AAA batteries for a full year.

The biggest question on my mind when I first saw this thing is how it gets its information, and given the fluid, always-growing-and-changing nature of Wikipedia, does it get updated? The answer is yes, but not utilizing the latest in wireless Internet or Bluetooth technology. Instead, there are two lower-tech solutions for upgrading. You can subscribe to a $29 service offered by Openmoko where you’ll receive 2 new microSD cards a year with updated information encoded on them. Or you can download the super-large files on your PC for free, but you have to have a microSD card burner in order to copy the info from your computer to the WikiReader device.

The WikiReader is available now for $99 plus shipping.

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