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Old 10-15-2009, 02:13 PM   #1
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Wikireader - Hands On Review

Well - I broke down & ordered the gadget, which arrived today. I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is it was a defective unit and it's on its way back:
"We are extremely sorry about this. You were unfortunate enough to have received a defected unit. What you are describing is a known issue that may be found in the first 10 devices we've sold. This was later fixed in our distribution points before proceeding with shipments.
We are sending you a new WikiReader, it will go in the mail today. We apologize for any inconvenience it causes you. Thank you so much for reaching out to us."

The good news is their support email answered within 20 minutes, confirming my diagnosis. Sigh. So if you ordered early, be aware you may be returning it. The problem is failure to load pages when trying to access links within an article- the darn thing kept throwing up an error message telling me to turn the unit off.

But I did play with it first.

PROs:
1. Very sensitive touch screen - just need to brush it with your fingertips. You read by brushing the screen to scroll through the article, or tap on links to access other articles.
2. Virtual keyboard can accept either 2-thumb texting or 1-finger hunt & peck typing.
3. Undocumented feature - you can password-restrict access to articles judged unsuitable for children (not sure what filter is used).
4. Pages load FAST - during initial searches and accessing links.
5. Very light weight - really can carry Wikipedia in your pocket.


CONs:
1. A LOT OF GLARE on the screen - really need to angle it just right to read it. Don't know if you can add a screen protector on top to cut down the glare.
2. Screen really picks up fingerprints, smudges, etc. fast.
3. Clunky keyboard - you have either an alphabetic keyboard, or can switch to a numeric/symbol keyboard. But the switch is fast.
4. Not a lot of contrast to the font - fuzzy edges to the letters. Reminded me of an old Tandy computer screen that had the blue letters on a white background - that "fuzzy" look - It might read better under different light sources. The actual screen (to my eyes) is a muddy gray/green with similarly-colored darker letters.
5. No "back" button - if you click on an embedded link to another article you have to use the "history" button to get back to the original article.
6. Small screen - need to use a lot of scrolling to read an entire article.

CONCLUSIONS (so far):
1. In its present state, not worth $99. The price needs to drop considerably for what it offers.
2. It IS fun to use - if you're a wiki-holic or love to read dictionaries/encyclopedias - it is addictive to keep hitting those links and keep reading. The page refresh rate and scroll refresh rate is fast enough to not hinder reading. When I think how long I have to wait to look something up in Wikepedia when reading on my Kindle, the Wikireader shines.
3. I hope they continue to develop this concept. I think it has a future niche for readers -- for accessing information offline, for pairing with an ereader like the kindle with a SLOW web interface, etc.


Please ask questions about features I've omitted. Sorry, I don't have any screen shots - already packed it up to return. (Go here for pics: http://thewikireader.com/index.html )
If anyone else ordered and got a functional unit, jump in with more info!

Last edited by poohbear_nc; 10-15-2009 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 10-15-2009, 02:26 PM   #2
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When I bought my Garmin GPS system, it also had a horribly reflective screen (and it isn't even touch!) I couldn't see the map, only myself... So, I put an anti-glare film over it. It works perfectly. It not only stops the glare, but also most of the fingerprints and scratches.
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:30 PM   #3
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Nice review! Poohbear.

Did you get a chance to see how it dealt with images?
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:46 PM   #4
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Nice review! Poohbear.

Did you get a chance to see how it dealt with images?
It is text only.
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Old 10-15-2009, 04:26 PM   #5
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I'd check see what type of touch screen it is before putting an anti glare coating on. Some do based on pressure, others work off capacitance (meaning, a coating could mess it up)
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Old 10-15-2009, 04:42 PM   #6
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I noticed from the screen shot (see our wiki) that the text is very low resolution. This is likely to be the cause of the text comments you made about the font being fuzzy. No anti-aliasing either. Did the manual tell you the screen resolution? It looks as low as early Palm screens (160 x160 pixels). As a matter of fact it looks like a Palm screen.

the web site offers no specifications. Were there any in the manual? Did you weigh it? what is the screen size exactly. etc. etc.

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Old 10-15-2009, 06:13 PM   #7
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I'd love to have a play with one of these.. What price point do you think would be more appropriate, $75? Because of the touchscreen I think the cost of hardware limits how low it can go.
I am a bit of a wiki-fanatic, I always wind up in arguments of conversations where I need to know the definition of history of something, but usually the iPhone offers a good enough solution.
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Old 10-15-2009, 06:13 PM   #8
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I noticed from the screen shot (see our wiki) that the text is very low resolution. This is likely to be the cause of the text comments you made about the font being fuzzy. No anti-aliasing either. Did the manual tell you the screen resolution? It looks as low as early Palm screens (160 x160 pixels). As a matter of fact it looks like a Palm screen.

the web site offers no specifications. Were there any in the manual? Did you weigh it? what is the screen size exactly. etc. etc.

Dale
The manual was about 8 pages long and explained how to use 3 buttons. The most informative bit was the dedication to mom.

No - absolutely no specs were given (not on the website either). The screen is roughly a 4 x 4 square. The weight was negligible - mostly the 2 AAA batteries.
I think they sacrificed everything (hardware speaking) to gain speed of page loading and light weight and battery life.
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Old 10-15-2009, 06:16 PM   #9
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I'd love to have a play with one of these.. What price point do you think would be more appropriate, $75? Because of the touchscreen I think the cost of hardware limits how low it can go.
I am a bit of a wiki-fanatic, I always wind up in arguments of conversations where I need to know the definition of history of something, but usually the iPhone offers a good enough solution.
It was fun to play with - even with the annoying error message. Once you start tapping those links, you're off and running. Unless they intend it as a niche product for wiki-fanatics, I doubt folks would pay over $50-60 for a unit that does only 1 thing. Hard to tell.

As DaleDe notes above - maybe they're recycling old Palm screens.
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Old 10-15-2009, 07:23 PM   #10
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The question is -- can it be hacked?
Can you insert your own wiki entries onto the memory card, and effectively add ebooks or other content to the collection?
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:00 PM   #11
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The question is -- can it be hacked?
Can you insert your own wiki entries onto the memory card, and effectively add ebooks or other content to the collection?
Unknown yet - until more info about what exactly is on the card. And file protection, if any. This really is a black box gadget AFAIK.

An interesting side note - the website has instructions on how to replace the card - apparently both the OS and Wiki reside on the card. When you sign up for updates, they mail you a new card to replace the old. You could probably put the card into a card reader and try to read what's on it. Or put your own card into the unit.
Also - no info yet on processor, etc - as far as loading it up and reading your own books.
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:16 PM   #12
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The question is -- can it be hacked?
Can you insert your own wiki entries onto the memory card, and effectively add ebooks or other content to the collection?
They promise to publish the entire source code.

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Old 10-15-2009, 08:50 PM   #13
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I took one of the images of the screen from the web site, isolated a line of the screen's pixels, and divided the number of photo pixels by that (result, right at 4 photo pixels per screen pixel). Then I isolated the screen itself (which cropped to 961 pixels in my image) and divided that by 4-- and ended up with 240.25. Since 240 is a very common number used in display sizes, I'm fairly confident that number is correct, giving a display of 240x240 pixels.
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:53 PM   #14
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I took one of the images of the screen from the web site, isolated a line of the screen's pixels, and divided the number of photo pixels by that (result, right at 4 photo pixels per screen pixel). Then I isolated the screen itself (which cropped to 961 pixels in my image) and divided that by 4-- and ended up with 240.25. Since 240 is a very common number used in display sizes, I'm fairly confident that number is correct, giving a display of 240x240 pixels.
Excellent, and given the pixels what did you calculate the screen size to be?

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Old 10-15-2009, 10:54 PM   #15
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I wonder if this is because of the defective one? I would guess they are burning the micro sd cards with newer firmware. Also, in some of the info I found online, they were alluding to it using an 8gb card. Since the updates are supposed to be 4+ gb, that makes sense.

Got this yesterday..
Quote:
The Order Will be shipped in the next few days.
When the order is shipped, a tracking number will be sent. Please allow 10 days for delivery.

Any problems, or questions please email me at orders@thewikireader.com
I will do everything I can to help solve the issue. Remember, I'm here to help.
Then got this today, a few minutes ago.
Quote:
This message is to inform you that there may be some delays in processing your order. Amazon is apparently having trouble processing the orders at the speed in which we anticipated. If you have not received a confirmation yet, we are extremely sorry, they are on the way. Please give it another day or two, we are working with them to get your WikiReader shipped as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience, and thanks again for being so patient.

Best Regards,
Will
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