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Travel in the Know With WikiReader

Are you one of those baby boomers, like me, who wants to be in the know? Do you remember what it was like to consult an encyclopedia before the days of Googling for the answer? Would you like to travel with an electronic encyclopedia in your pocket just in case there’s a question about the next port on your luxury cruise?

With WikiReader, you’ll always be in the know. Requiring no internet connection, the 4.5 oz [amazonify]B002N5521W::text::::WikiReader[/amazonify], produced by Openmoko ($99), has a 3.5″ touchscreen with an onscreen keyboard. Two AAA batteries keep it running for approximately 90 hours. SD or SDHC cards are used to store the more than 3 million Wikipedia articles on the reader. A $29 annual update subscription (two updates per year), keeps the WikiReader current.

Conde Nast Traveller has nominated WikiReader for Innovative & Design Awards 2010 saying, “WikiReader is a beautifully simple idea: all of Wikipedia’s content on a little machine as portable and user-friendly as…well, a book.”

We tested the WikiReader on our coastal California sports car road trip. Driving out to Mission San Antonio de Padua near Paso Robles, I turned on the WikiReader, then entered “Mission San Antonio de Padua”. The Wikipedia entry appeared. I read Alan the details of the mission’s history as he zipped our sports car through the curves and hills near Ft. Hunter Liggett Army Base. Upon our arrival, we were educated about the mission.

The one improvement that I would suggest is a brighter screen, preferably in color. I found the dull screen hard to read unless I was close to bright lighting. Also, it would be nice if the WikiReader included graphics as that has been stripped from the Wikipedia articles. Of course, these suggestions would probably affect the weight and battery usage of the device.

So who ‘s going to use a WikiReader in this day of connectivity via smartphones and iPhones? I think my baby boomer friends, who aren’t computer or internet savvy, would enjoy using a WikiReader. It’s also appealing for older seniors totally unfamiliar with computers, such as my 80-year-old mother who values being in the know, too. It’s also a convenient device when connectivity isn’t available (or is too costly) to smartphone and iPhone users traveling internationally.

Would you like to win a WikiReader? We’re giving one away to help celebrate My Itchy Travel Feet’s 2nd anniversary. Tell us what you would be researching on your WikiReader. Enter the contest by leaving your comment at the end of this post. Please include your email address for contact purposes. Contest ends on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 11:00 p.m. Arizona Mountain Standard Time. Winner will be announced as soon as possible. Remember, according to our general contest rules, the winner must be a U.S. resident and respond within 48 hours of receiving the notification email; or we chose another winner.

Disclosure: Openmoko has provided a WikiReader for our review and as a contest prize. I have also included an Amazon link to WikiReader for your convenience. However My Itchy Travel Feet does receive a small percentage for purchases made at

UPDATE: May 27, 2010, 11:01 p.m.. This contest has expired. As soon as the winner acknowledges receipt of my email, I’ll make the announcement.

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