What’s the best thing about Wikipedia? The fact that it’s an online encyclopedia packed with (usually accurate) information about virtually anything you choose to search for.
So, how about a portable device that puts Wikipedia in the pockets of people who don’t have a smartphone? Great! Except WikiReader has a rather fundamental flaw…
You see, WikiReader is 100% offline. The Wikipedia database is contained on an SD Card that is slotted into the device. Updated SD Cards can be sent to owners by post several times a year. Yes, this is quite literally the internet by snailmail!
Admittedly, the WikiReader from OpenMoko is actually quite a clever idea. It could well be the perfect Christmas gift for people who aren’t net savvy and want an encyclopedia in their pocket.
It costs just $99, runs on two AAA batteries and its low-power CPU and monochrome touchscreen mean it probably won’t get through many batteries in its lifetime. If you don’t want postal updates you can connect the WikiReader to a computer to download updates manually.
The problem is that, depending on when you buy the device or get an update, you could have huge inaccuracies in some of the articles on your WikiReader. Wikipedia articles are regularly vandalised and others can contain glaring errors. Corrections usually come through quickly but with WikiReader you could be waiting months to see them.
As a The Next Web reader you probably won’t be desperate to get hold of a WikiReader. However, if you’re willing to forgive the infrequent updates and the fact that it doesn’t display images, only text, it could be the perfect gift for the technophobe in your life.