Offline Wikipedia viewer, with free updates

October 16th, 2009 Tags: , , , , , ,

WikiReader

This is the new WikiReader, a device from OpenMoko.  This device costs $99, and although you have to buy in US Dollars (via Amazon) they will happily ship worldwide (for an additional $19.20).  This device gives you access to 4Gb worth of Wikipedia articles in a small handheld device you can carry around with you.  It stores all the information on a 8GB microSD card (access from underneath the batteries) so needs no internet connection to provide information (which is good, as it doesn’t support any form of connectivity).  Whilst we are talking about the battery compartment, it takes 2 standard AAA batteries (easily obtained the world over, and helps keep the cost down compared to having a built in rechargeable battery); the manufacturers claim those batteries should last 12 months of normal usage, and it will take rechargeable AAA batteries if you prefer.

WikiReader side

It has 3 simple buttons on it, ships with 3 million wikipedia articles, and uses a capacitive touchscreen, which has a scratch resistant tempered glass screen.  Wikipedia states today they have 3,056,000+ articles, so if this device is providing “3 million”, it looks like it has the full contents!  It’s only got a Black & White screen, and it doesn’t appear to support pictures (also, it’s not clear whether it supports hyperlinks from one article to another), and we’re not sure how software updates will be delivered (if at all).

Update: The device does support hyperlinks from one article to another, so that’s resolved that small concern from our point of view.

For those happy to download a new 4GB file (which shows that they have some headroom on the 8GB memory card) then updates will be available quarterly for free.  For those who would prefer to receive a physical card, OpenMoko are planning to offer a twice a year update service costing $29 for two years, although there is no mention of whether this will be available internationally, or what the cost for shipping the updates to the UK will be.

There are even some limited parental controls to prevent children from getting to any adult-orientated content.

I remember many years back looking at ways of getting offline copies of wikipedia onto Psions, then Zaurus devices, and then just accepting that online access was best; and you know what, I think this device could sell very well.  Even with the large download for the updates (and you wouldn’t need to apply every one I guess), this device could prove very useful, and is something that has caught my interest; personally, I’d prefer to see a device more akin to an Amazon Kindle, with 3G connectivity, eBook reader support *and* Wikipedia offline access, but this may just suffice for a while.

Finally, I note that the WikiReader website mentions it comes in white, which might imply more colours in the future…


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2 Responses to “Offline Wikipedia viewer, with free updates”

  1. WikiReader supports software updates! | UK Gadgeteer Website Says:

    […] we covered the WikiReader here, the offline wikipedia device last week, we weren’t sure whether or not it would support software updates.  Well, we had a brief […]

  2. Wikireader release Spring update | UK Gadgeteer Website Says:

    […] WikiReader first announced their device was available back in October (see here), there was mention of 6 monthly updates which would become available (which we covered in more […]

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