If you will note, I have given this product, the Pandigital Handheld Electronic Encyclopedia (WikiReader) a four star review. I truly have mixed emotions as to this rating. Please note my comments rather than the star rating in this case.
First, I love this little instrument. For the use I put it to it is like a gift from the Gods. I read a lot, and I mean a lot. Most of my reading is done either in my reading chair or in bed. Both locations are at the far end of our house away from our computers. As I read, I am constantly running across references to geographical locations, names of people, references to events, obscure literary figures and obscure historical figures and events of which I know absolutely nothing about. What ever I am reading is enhanced greatly if I know something of what ever the author is referencing. In the past I have always kept a steno pad and written these reference down and as time would allow, so a search, usually winding up being referred to Wikipedia. This was okay as far as it went, but so often I found that by the time I looked up what ever it was I wanted to know about, I lost the context in which it was use. This little machine has solved that problem. As I run across the many things I do not know about, I can instantly access the information and continue in an enlighten state with my reading.
This small, palm-sized thing is programmed with the entire English version of Wikipedia. It is absolutely ready to go out of the box, has pretty good instructions and is easy to use. The battery life (it uses 2 AAA batteries) is good. It is easy to turn on and off. The information is truly there and truly available.
The company offers updates via download or via MicroSD card. It should be noted that if you choose the MicroSD card method that there is a charge, a stiffer charge than I am willing to pay! This is something they do not tell you on the product page.
I use this product a lot; almost on a daily and nightly basis. It has made my life much easier and much more enjoyable. This item has a touch screen, is fully independent from the internet and even though this information can the accessed via your smart phones, Ipads, etc., it is nice to not be connect and is far less hassle. It is also very versatile and can be carried anywhere; taking up little room.
But there are some major considerations that the potential buyer needs to be aware of! I must stress the work "major!" There is a very dark side to the use of this reader.
Now I am use to touch screen technology, no expert mind you, but then again, I did not just fall off the turnip wagon when it comes to this stuff. But that being said, I have never encountered a touch screen devise more difficult to use than this one; it takes practice, practice and more practice! To begin with the screen is quite small. I do not have large hands and am pretty digitally adept, but no matter, this screen absolutely drove me crazy when I first started using it and I still have a lot of problems. This touch screen is extremely sensitive and is very small. I was and am constantly hitting the wrong letters when I try entering data and sometimes it takes me three or four tries. The QWERTY keyboard is an absolute pain in the behind to use. This reader desperately needs a regular, off screen keyboard.
The scroll mechanism, again something I am quite familiar with, is great in concept on this item but it is so sensitive and the screen so small, that I am constantly being sent here and there to subjects that I have no intention of touching on the screen, but due to the sensitivity, accidentally hit. This causes frustration to the extreme. You MUST NOT even vaguely touch anything that is underlined in the text because you will be sent directly to that subject and this forces you to more or less start all over again. I am a very patient sort of fellow and not subject to temper tantrums, but I have to admit that at first this item almost fond itself being hurled across the room toward the nearest wall...quite often, as a matter of fact. I still have my moments when using this thing.
If you are use to texting at a great speed...forget it. You will have a horrible adjustment to make using this device.
You need a good light and a lot of light to read this thing as there is no back lighting. I am older and my eyes are not what they were twenty or thirty years ago and this is a real problem at time.
Were this company to produce this item with a screen a bit larger, an off screen keyboard, a screen that was less sensitive and some back lighting, I would enthusiastically pay well over double the cost of the current item. The concept there is great; it just needs to be much, much more user friendly
After much, much practice and a great deal of frustration and practice, I can finally manage this device somewhat and use it constantly. I am glad I bought it but feel strongly that the designers of this thing; a wonderful thing, really, should be publically flogged, sent back to design school or drummed out of the designer corps in complete disgrace.
As to Wikipedia. Some like and trust it, others do not. I personally have no problems using it for what I use it for. I am hardly the person to judge its accuracy and reliability. I have never personally had problems with it and use it all the time. That is just me though...each will have to decide that question on their own, using their own standards and needs as a benchmark.
Do I recommend buying it? After reading this review and a couple of other reviews that are posted here, you the potential buy will have to make your own mind up and figure your own tolerance level. Would I buy it again? Probably, but with the knowledge of what I was getting into, and a willingness to put up with the inadequacies and quirkiness of this product.