WikiReader: Plan B of OpenMoko Realized

Oct 14, 2009

As OpenMoko CEO Sean Moss-Pultz was announcing his departure from the mobile phone project, he mentioned as an aside that we was indeed working on yet another project. His Plan B has now been completed.

In his Plan B message to the community in June, Moss-Pultz alluded to a possible WikiReader, a small touchscreen device with the entire Wikipedia on a mini-SD memory card. The WikiReader operates neither on a WLAN connection nor 3G. It is currently orderable at $99.

The WikiReader, branded as "Wikipedia in Your Pocket," is keen on making reading Wikipedia an entertainment factor. The device has three buttons, Search for searching, History lists the previous searches and Random calls up a randomly selected article. The device distinguishes itself by its particularly low power usage: the two AAA batteries should last a year under normal use, mainly because the b&w display requires no backlighting.

The lack of external connectivity provides users two alternatives. You can get an annual update subscription for $29 and have an updated Wikipedia sent twice a year on a mini-SD card. Or you can download the 4-8 GByte archives off the Web.

The technology behind WikiReader is similar to that of the offline Wikipedia of the OLPC project. The software eliminates all graphics, renders a highly compressed and indexed archive from the raw text, and unpacks just the text called up in the search. The source code is under GPLv3 and BSD licensing and download is available from Github. Documentation already includes a QuickStart guide for building your own WikiReader.

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    For $40 this might be the sort of thing that people would buy for each other as Christmas gifts. But $100 for a dedicated device?? I don't know of many people that would go for that. Just spend another $20 on a Nintendo DS and use DSWiki. Or another $60 will get you an iPod Touch. Ah well. I wish them luck! It's a shame they appear to have missed this year's shopping season.<br><a href="">womens health</a>
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