Openmoko announced today the availability of WikiReader. The WikiReader is an offline handheld gadget that offers the more than three million English language articles of Wikipedia anywhere you go.
The WikiReader eReader for Wikipedia runs on two AAA batteries and features a monochrome touchscreen.
Articles are scrolled with a stroke of the finger and hyperlinks selected with a simple tap. Three buttons, Search, History and Random, offer the convenience of reading specific topics or the serendipitous pleasure of discovering something by chance within Wikipedia's rich array of articles ranging from Freud to Final Fantasy.
WikiReader was designed by Thomas Meyerhoffer, the former Apple designer known for reshaping surf culture with his radically different surfboards: "The key is keeping it simple. We really want the focus to be on the experience of reading Wikipedia, not browsing the Web. That's why we only have three buttons. There really is no interface. You're just straight into the content."
Meyerhoffer, continues, "Because it's offline and offers parental controls, the whole experience happens within the device. That's especially great when it comes to kids. I can give this to my nine-year-old, and I know he's only going to get content that is fine for him to read."
I can see the Wikireader be a nice device for kids that are not allowed to surf the web yet (if these kids actually exist). For others it is just another special purpose device to carry around.
Updates for the WikiReader are provided quarterly and available for free download via their website. A yearly subscription plan for updated microSD cards is also available for $29.
The WikiReader Gadget is available for $99 starting today at the WikiReader site and also is supposed to be offered on Amazon.
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