"Openmoko, the company that first gained attention for its
Linux-based phone platform, launched a new pocket-sized open source
product in time for this holiday season, the WikiReader. The
WikiReader is an inexpensive ($99), low-power, 4-inch square
touchscreen LCD display device pre-loaded with the text of three
million Wikipedia pages on a microSD card. In the smartphone era,
skeptics might dismiss the device as woefully underpowered, but to
the open source community the more pertinent question is what else
can it do? Unboxed and unconnected
"Physically, the WikiReader is distinctive; its square shape is
easily hand-held, but stands out from mobile phones. It is white,
which suggests the industrial design of e-Ink book readers, but the
hardware interface is minimalist: power button on top, and three
hardware buttons on the front, "Search," "History," and "Random."
The screen is a monochrome LCD display with 240-by-208 pixel
resolution and no backlight, but it is also a capacitive
touchscreen, used for the on-screen keyboard when searching,
selecting links, and scrolling through articles.
"The device is very lightweight, slim, and at this size easily
fits into a shirt pocket. It is available for purchase directly
from the WikiReader web site, and from Amazon.com. The housing is
not particularly tough, however, more akin to
remote-control-quality plastics than the sturdier-walled materials
on a cell phone or GPS unit, so the careful buyer might keep on the
lookout for a padded PDA case of some sort to absorb abuse."
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