I have always liked stand-alone data devices like this. I've owned many including several Franklin handhelds with many of their plug-in modules. They were great for spelling, Bibles, dictionaries, encyclopedia entries, etc. However, they were always limited in their versatility. The only ones that I have ever traveled with have been handheld translators. This one is different.
I travel often for both business and pleasure. I always try to incorporate some personal interests into every trip. Whether it's a museum, a historical site, a local festival or a building of special architectural interest I always try to add to my understanding of our planet. This makes frequent travel not only bearable but really enjoyable.
I love to come across things that I have never heard of before. A new (to me) species of bird or mammal, a significant landmark, a reference to an obscure historical event or person, etc. The only problem is that I have to wait until I get home to find out more information about what I saw. Imagine standing at a historical marker and being able to get read the entire Wikipedia entry for that subject WITHOUT a computer or internet connection. I live blocks away from a museum and when I am looking at a piece of art from someone I am not familiar with I can look them up quickly while still looking at the art. This is sooo wonderful!
Although I have a smart phone, a Kindle (which has 3G access to Wikipedia), a net-book with 3G and I plan to get a 3G iPad, they all need to download the needed information from the internet. However the Wiki Reader has it all built in so it reads much, much quicker than those devices that are dependent on an internet connection.
Now for the device itself; there is certainly some good and some not-so-good. Here are my impressions:
* The small size is very convenient. It could be thinner but I am happy with it as it is.
* Speed - Once I initiate a search it finds what I am looking for in just seconds which is much faster that most 3G connected devices.
* Data base - Wikipedia is just incredible! I am always amazed at what is included on it. I know that some people question it's reliability but I have never been disappointed with Wikipedia.
* Ability to upgrade - You have a couple of choices here. You can download other Wikis from the internet for free (including updates) or you can pay to have a data card sent to you twice a year.
* Runs on AAA batteries which are cheap and easy to find.
NOT SO GOOD -
* I find the QWERTY touchscreen to be difficult to use. I don't have small fingers and my fingernails are cut short. Although I have gotten better at inputting data it is still very frustrating. I wish it was a little larger and had a real keyboard.
* When I try to click on links that are close to others I sometimes hit the wrong one.
* Often when scrolling I will hit a link inadvertently which is frustrating.
* There is no back-light so you can't see it in the dark.
* The unit displays no photos or illustrations of any kind. I'm not looking for color, just black and white line art.
I tend to be an early adopter and I will use this until a better one is available. Although I love my Wiki Reader, it could be better so I give it four stars. I think that this would be great for those older people who don't carry a computer with them on trips and for younger folk, especially when doing research for homework.
NOTE: Although I didn't purchase this item myself it was bought for me, from Amazon, by two of my sons as a birthday gift. Thanks guys!