This is a long overdue posting for my latest favorite gadget, the Wikireader. William Lai of OpenMoko sent me an early version of the WikiReader to try out and present at the Gadget-thon in the Stream conference in Athens. The device has quickly become an object I keep at hand around the house, particularly when guests are over.

Why use Wikireader? Living in Hong Kong we do not have room for a full printed encyclopedia and who would pay for one when Wikipedia is out there.

On the other hand, it is incredibly anti-social to pull out your laptop to check a topic under discussion at the dinner table. The Wikireader is a great solution. You can pull it out and quickly look up the latest version of the Wikipedia.

The curious aspect is that I could also use my Blackberry or an iPhone, but generally prefer not to. I am not sure why.

The Apps economy built by Apple made me wonder if Gadgets were dead, but the Wikireader makes me feel like there is still life in them yet.

There is something highly compelling about a single usage device.

My critique of the beta version I got is that the touch screen is a little slow to react. This is particularly noticeable just after using an iPhone. After a moment, you do, however, adapt.

For the future of Wikireader, I have urged William to produce a solar powered Wikireader. Not only would it be more green than the battery powered version, but it would allow it to be used in rural areas far from regular electricity. Can you imagine the value of passing a solar-powered Wikireader to a schoolteacher in a remote rural area?

As mentioned at the top of the post (and headline) this is not a paid endorsement, but I did receive the beta version of the Wikireader for free. Thanks, William!

You can see the Wikireader here.

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  1. Amazing thing about the wikireader is that a solar powered one is definitely not out of the question. Running off of 2 AAA batteries with as long of life as projected (90 hours) one can assume that the unit only draws a few Milli-amps. A couple of small solar cells should be more than enough to supply this amount of power. Combine with high-capacity capacitors and you've got a (IMHO) nobel prize winning knowledge-sharing device.

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