The WikiReader: a pocket-sized, offline Wikipedia

Openmoko's WikiReader may not immediately make sense if you're always glued to a smartphone or a computer. Just put aside that thought for a moment and consider this: it's a barebones, offline version of Wikipedia — developed in cooperation with the site — that you can access anytime. It's a simple concept, but it does it exceptionally well. That same simplicity also means that both the elderly and children would easily be able to pick it up.

It's only got four buttons: one up top to turn it on, and three on the face to bring up the search, see your history or find a random article (much like hitting "shuffle" on a music playlist). All of the typing is handled by way of a virtual keyboard that pops up on the unit's monochrome touchscreen. You'll also use your fingertips to scroll and follow links. The random button is a nice touch and — just as it is with Wikipedia — it can be a fun time-waster to keep hitting random and read about things you never knew existed.

Click Continue to read on and find out why this may just be the perfect physical embodiment of Wikipedia.

Keeping things as simple as possible, the WikiReader doesn't need to be charged, either. It uses a pair of AAA batteries and, thanks to its low power consumption, will last for months before you need a fresh pair. The Reader's "brain" is actually the same microSD card it uses to store the entirety of Wikipedia on, and Openmoko hopes that this will encourage the opensource community to play around with the device, as the WikiReader will be able to work with whatever's on the card as long as it's formatted correctly.

You can update the SD card on your on through your computer using the WikiReader's website or — if you're less technically inclined, for example — Openmoko will send you new SD cards four times a year for a $30 annual fee.

If we were to complain about anything, we'd probably ask for picture support (the Reader only displays text) as well as a backlit screen. As it stands right now, you'll need a light source to be able to read such as a lamp or the good ol' sun, but that's not a huge problem.

You can get a WikiReader of your own for $99 through Amazon or the WikiReader website. Be sure to check it out from every angle in our gallery.

Via WikiReader