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Offline Wikipedia Reader For iRex Iliad 112

Posted by timothy
from the don't-panic dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to "an offline Wikipedia viewer for the iRex Iliad e-ink e-book reader (similar to Amazon's Kindle). Take it anywhere — and you don't need to be connected to the Internet in any way!" (You'll need a 4GB flash card and the ability to follow the directions.)
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Offline Wikipedia Reader For iRex Iliad

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  • rickyaires (Score:5, Funny)

    by rickyaires (1269860) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @04:56PM (#23511904)
    Very good. Now do the same with Megarotic!
  • pricey (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @04:57PM (#23511924) Homepage Journal
    I think I need to take out a small loan to buy an iRex. (or a Kindle!)
    • by carlzum (832868)
      Whoa, no s**t... the iRex is $600-$700 and only comes with 128 MB of storage, so tack on a few more dollars for some flash memory.

      12 hours on a single charge and stylus input is nice, but that's a lot of money for a grey-scale display and a short list of supported file types (PDF, HTML, TXT, JPG, BMP, PNG). At 8.5 x 6 x 0.5 inches and nearly one pound it's not that much easier to lug around than a laptop. I'd love to give one a try, but I'll wait until the price dips under $300.

      • by Fred_A (10934)

        Whoa, no s**t... the iRex is $600-$700 and only comes with 128 MB of storage, so tack on a few more dollars for some flash memory.

        You call this pricey ?
        Try buying it over here. It sells for 600 €.

        They haven't heard of change rates apparently.

        We're probably lucky the dollar is low or it would sell for the price of a small car.

        And don't get me going with software (Photoshop is 1 075€ - $650 in the US -, extended 1 600 € - $1000 in the US).

    • by redxxx (1194349)
      iRex isn't slightly cheaper than anything, and does not have anything helpful in large friendly letters on it's cover.

      If I had opted for the n800, rather than the n810, I'd have both those things resolved.
      • The eInk display on the iRex, Sony eReader, Amazon Kindle, etc is just great for reading text and improving battery life. the LCD on the n810 just can't compete.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2008 @04:59PM (#23511940)
    That instantly puts this technology beyond the capability of 95% of the population.
  • weird (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:02PM (#23511966) Homepage
    I don't even have an iRex whatchamacalit, and just today i was reading a book at a coffee shop without being connected to the internet at all!
    • Re:weird (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:06PM (#23512020) Journal
      Did you carry an entire encyclopaedia with you to the coffee shop? I have an iLiad, and I carry a small selection of textbooks on it as well as a new novels. I've only got a 1GB card in it, but it's a long way away from being full. It accepts compact flash cards, so I'll probably pick up a 16GB one soon. That's enough for all of Wikipedia and most of Project Gutenberg in something light enough to carry with me.
      • Re:weird (Score:5, Funny)

        by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:19PM (#23512126) Homepage
        "Did you carry an entire encyclopaedia with you to the coffee shop?"

        I did not need to. I was only going to be there for 11 and a half hours, so i just needed 2 books.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pembo13 (770295)
          Hmm. For print encyclopedias, you rarely know ahead of time exactly which volumes you will need. One entry may reference, or suggest an entry in another volume
        • Re:weird (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mewyn (663989) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @07:26PM (#23513056) Homepage
          I very recently bought a Kindle, and I love having access to wikipedia on the device, as well as a built-in dictionary. If I don't know the meaning of a word, now instead of guessing the meaning I will look it up really quick, if it doesn't break my rhythm.

          I was reading a book the other day on it, a weapon was mentioned in the book, and I quickly looked it up in Wikipedia to see the image, and then got back to my book with a much better mental image of the scene in question.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I very recently bought a Kindle, and I love having access to wikipedia on the device, as well as a built-in dictionary. If I don't know the meaning of a word, now instead of guessing the meaning I will look it up really quick, if it doesn't break my rhythm.

            I was reading a book the other day on it, a weapon was mentioned in the book, and I quickly looked it up in Wikipedia to see the image, and then got back to my book with a much better mental image of the scene in question.

            These are the very reasons why ebook readers are such a great idea, but it is a shame that they need to be encumbered by DRM.

            Personally, if amazon were to begin providing buyers, of tradition dead-tree books, with the option to download a DRM free file of a book with the purchase of the dead-tree version I would purchase a kindle tomorrow.

            The lack of being able to sell a DRM encumbered kindle book makes the purchase very unappealing. I can't loan the kindle ebook to someone without giving them my kindle. I

            • by elp (45629)
              Itunes used to sell DRM only songs, but it never stopped the IPOD from taking off. Just get a non drm copy of the doc. Now you have the doc and your friend can have his own copy of the doc. Even better than dead-tree. Besides if the kindle becomes even slightly popular there will be a crack for it.
      • Sure, you may be able to fit all those bells and whistles into something you can fit in a large pocket, but what are you going to do during the impending zombie apocalypse? Suddenly you're going to want to be friends with the guy who wears a backpack of encyclopedias and cricket bats.

        I'll stick with my methods, if you don't mind.
      • by solevita (967690)

        Did you carry an entire encyclopaedia with you to the coffee shop?

        On the plus side, he didn't carry Wikipedia to the coffee shop either! Sounds like win-win to me ;)
      • by JoshJ (1009085)
        But how long would it take for you to *download* WP and PG? Seems like it would be fairly prohibitive.
        • by Enoxice (993945)
          I can't speak for wikipedia, but PG has a 4gb DVD iso that has A LOT of books, not to mention the smaller "Sci-Fi bookshelf" CD iso. Both are torrentable at decent speeds so you won't kill PGs server. Or (unless I'm mistaken) you can get a mail-order copy the old-fashioned way.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          Getting a book takes a few seconds, and I tend to only download things I am likely to want. That said, Wikipedia is 3.7GB for the latest dump. If I got it at work, the bottleneck would be the speed of writing it to flash, which would be around 3MB/s for a cheap CF card. Google tells me that would take about 21 minutes [google.com]. Getting it at home, my Internet connection would be the bottleneck and it would take closer to two hours. I'd imagine that Project Gutenberg would take a similar amount of time. It ough
    • Re:weird (Score:5, Funny)

      by maxume (22995) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:40PM (#23512284)
      Were other people turned off by the cloud of smug coming out of your book?
  • Don't Panic (Score:5, Funny)

    by Laur (673497) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:08PM (#23512042)
    Do the instructions include printing out a sticker saying "Don't Panic" to attach to the cover?
  • by Bryansix (761547) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:10PM (#23512062) Homepage
    Whoever tagged this as toy should be given the whole Encyclopedia Britannica in print form and then be forced to lug it around for a day.
  • I badly want one (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairykrishna (740240) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:28PM (#23512190)
    I really, really want a decent e-ink ebook reader which can handle wikipedia and pdfs. £400 ($800) is just far too much though. I'm amazed that anyone is buying them at that price. They need to get down to ~£100.
    • I think that would happen in due time. I imagine some manufacturer will find a way to make eink cheaper.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Shagg (99693)
        There are several cheaper eink devices. The one in this story is by far the most expensive. It has the largest screen and most hardware features though, which is what you're paying extra for.
        • Yes, but the GP poster wanted a $100 eInk device, which I don't think there are any that are close. I think Sony is $300, Amazon is $400, but those are a bit proprietary too.
    • by trawg (308495)
      Concur; I looked at this after reading about it on Slashdot, tracked down the Australian distributor, and fell off my chair when I saw the price (~AUD$1000).

      I'm currently reading ebooks on a 3-4 year old HP iPaq that I got for around $200. It's not awesome - screen res is only 320x200 and Microsoft Reader seems to be the worst-designed application in terms of fitting # of words on screen (not as bad w/ HTML ebooks).

      But - it's backlit, can read any format, has wifi and web browser, takes SD cards - it's a pr
  • Kinda cool (Score:5, Informative)

    by proxima (165692) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:29PM (#23512196)
    This is a neat hack; I'm mildly surprised that you can fit a decent version of Wikipedia in under 4 GB. The text, sure (especially bzip2 compressed), but a decent set of images? Anyone have a breakdown of exactly which version of Wikipedia this is?

    The static Wikipedia pages [wikipedia.org] appear to have not been updated since April 2007 (the February 2008 ones stop just before "en"). That version comes in larger than 4GB, but static HTML pages are less efficient, I would think, than what this guy did parsing the XML data.

    These days, though, WiFi is available in so many places that even if I owned one of these devices I probably wouldn't use up the flash space with an offline version of Wikipedia.

    Side note about the iRex. The ebook version of the reader (which, notably, lacks WiFi compared to the more expensive version) appears to be $599 MSRP [irexshop.com]. I personally thought the Kindle was expensive at $400, wireless service included. The WiFi iRex is $700, which is getting into the territory of a few low-end (or used, I'm sure) tablet notebooks. I understand that the battery life and screen readability of these things is supposed to be pretty good, though.

    Anybody know if the iRex or any other ebook reader has the capability to annotate PDF files? I do a quite a bit of reading of PDF documents, and I find myself printing them all too often so that they're easier to read and I can make notes. These ebook screens are supposed to be easier on the eyes than a standard laptop screen, so all that's left is the ability to make annotations.
    • Re:Kinda cool (Score:5, Informative)

      by David Gerard (12369) <{ku.oc.draregdivad} {ta} {todhsals}> on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:39PM (#23512278) Homepage
      It'll be text, no pictures. The Wikipedia image dump is several hundred gig.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by moosesocks (264553)
        That's for full-size color images, and other non-visual uploads as well (eg. audio clips).

        If we're preparing a wikipeia dump specificly for the iLiad, we can convert all of the images to 16-level grayscale, and resmple them down to a resolution appropriate for the device. Recompress, and the resulting image should be much, much smaller.

        Wikipedia should probably start implementing some sort of tagging system for images to help strip out non-essential media for a "condensed" version on platforms where bandwi
        • Might be a useful idea, might not. The SOS Children DVD of Wikipedia comes in two versions, one with just thumbnails and one with full images. One to suggest to them, and to the Wikipedia 1.0 crew - the main two groups working in terms of physical distributions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by georgeav (965554)

      On iliad you can annotate, but the method ain't perfect. See the end of this article [arstechnica.com] for a review.

      Regarding the price.. Iliad has a bigger screen and Wacom style touchscreen. And if you are a Linux user you can install apps [mobileread.com] that were already ported to Iliad.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by proxima (165692)

        On iliad you can annotate, but the method ain't perfect. See the end of this article [arstechnica.com] for a review.

        Ah, it stores everything separately, and doesn't seem to have anything but a "pen" mode. Since my handwriting is somewhat poor (and my tablet-writing is even worse), the ability to add typed notes would be nice (via a little on-screen keyboard, perhaps? I'm not asking for OCR to read my scribbles). The biggest thing for me is underlining/highlighting - this can be done neatly and efficientl

        • Re:Kinda cool (Score:4, Informative)

          by peragrin (659227) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @06:21PM (#23512610)
          with wifi on and modifications done to use the irex as a web browser, battery life is about a day, usually less. without wifi on all the time your talking a couple of months depending on how much you read.

          e-ink's to main features are no back lighting and they only update the page when you change the page. with refresh in the high milisecond range(ie you can watch it change)
    • by owlnation (858981)

      ...a decent version of Wikipedia...
      If EVER there was a glaring need for the words "citation needed" then the above statement surely is it. "Decent" and "wikipedia" are not words that should be used together.
      • by tepples (727027)

        "Decent" and "wikipedia" are not words that should be used together.
        Then what Free encyclopedia is decent?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nicolas Roard (96016)
      I posted a blog entry with some pictures: http://camaelon.blogspot.com/2008/05/iliad-irex-pictures.html [blogspot.com] and a previous post about the iliad and other stuff: http://camaelon.blogspot.com/2008/04/iliad-irex-note-taking-and-hand-writing.html [blogspot.com] The Mobile Read forums [mobileread.com] are also pretty informative. On the capacity to annotate pdf, I think that's one of the great use case of the iliad -- you can easily read & annotate on the iliad, then transfert back the PDF+annotations, and merge them in a new PDF -- or even
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by proxima (165692)
        Neat stuff. Still, I'd probably only be willing to pay about $300-400 for the Iliad's functionality, not $700 (I'd want WiFi). The cost of the eink screens needs to come down quite a bit so we get low-end readers in the $100-200 range and $300+ occupied by the really hackable ones like the Iliad.

        Regarding Wikipedia, the Kindle has a distinct advantage over this: free access to Wikipedia through the cell phone networks rather than WiFi. That almost completely negates the need for an offline (especially if
    • I understand that the battery life and screen readability of these things is supposed to be pretty good, though.
      They are. Battery life is notably longer compared to regular laptops. The screen readability is excellent, and for long reading sessions (when you are reading novels rather than glancing at references) the experience is beyond compare.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      These days, though, WiFi is available in so many places that even if I owned one of these devices I probably wouldn't use up the flash space with an offline version of Wikipedia.

      I have a 1st edition Iliad reader. Got it off e-bay for about US$550.

      The wifi is pretty limited with the Iliad. It can synch wirelessly with a samba drive and also synch downloads with the iDS service. Currently that does little more than schedule firmware updates.

      However, you can get "shell access" to the iliad and load in a ported web browser. It's slow though -- not an idea solution.

      Anybody know if the iRex or any other ebook reader has the capability to annotate PDF files? I do a quite a bit of reading of PDF documents, and I find myself printing them all too often so that they're easier to read and I can make notes. These ebook screens are supposed to be easier on the eyes than a standard laptop screen, so all that's left is the ability to make annotations.

      All editions of the iliad have a wacom stylus for making annotations. I do the PDF annotations myself, i haven't tri

  • Or an iPhone (Score:2, Informative)

    by rfunk (765049)
    Apparently you can fit an offline copy of Wikipedia in 2GB on an iPhone or iPod-Touch.
    http://collison.ie/wikipedia-iphone/ [collison.ie]
  • It costs $700 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Necron69 (35644) <jscott,farrow&gmail,com> on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:56PM (#23512426)
    I got all excited about a Kindle competitor... until I saw the price.

    Lop a zero off the price guys, and I'll consider it. Give me a fscking break.

    - Necron69
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @06:05PM (#23512496)
    One of the charming, and important, features of Wikipedia is the timely updating on current events. Often by the time I've read something in the daily news the Wikipedia article has already been updated with even better information by the people who care about and watch over their articles. This feature is missed in any offline reader.

    Also having to download the entire Wikipedia DB to update the offline version each time will be time consuming for the user, and bandwidth killing for the Wikipedia site if this becomes popular.

    Now if Wikipedia could organize themselves in a manner that allowed you to download the updates since your last update, you'd have a win-win on both sides.

    • Now if Wikipedia could organize themselves in a manner that allowed you to download the updates since your last update, you'd have a win-win on both sides.
      What, like `wget -m`?
    • Downloading is time consuming and bandwidth killing, but on the other hand old copies of Wikipedia, from when you have read them, contain the then current info. You can always go back to something stable if you need to reference something, as opposed to the current Wikipedia pages, which, by the time you need to look up something you read a while ago, they are long gone and edited out by other users. I do have an issue with how some of the pages get edited, and it's nice to hang on to a copy that I used to
    • by priegog (1291820)
      Like periodic torrents of the whole thing? That wouldn't take too much... actually it wouldn't even have to be done by wikipedia at all.
  • And as soon as the price comes down by an order of magnitude, I'll be the first to buy one.

    $700? Is this really the best they can do in the era of the $100 laptop?

  • This seems cool almost Hitchhikers guide cool. You could download a new version of the static every time you had a spare night with an internet connection.

    Would also be good if you could right entries off line and sync them later (although this would make the hole project next to impossible to manage).

    off course i could just get the static version and put it on my EEE (a mem card any way) then I could write entries in vi and upload later as the readers well out my price range.
  • by brunokummel (664267) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @06:33PM (#23512692) Journal
    ...and the ability to follow the directions
    What do you mean by follow the directions? Everybody knows that you are only supposed to follow instructions when everything else fails...
  • Another Option (Score:2, Informative)

    A similar project was covered recently on Hack-a-day [hackaday.com]. Same idea... different hardware.
  • At that price i could probably get an entire bookshelf of books that i can read offline at any time i want. Not only that,i think this is only going to be good for books that you read from cover to cover. If you reference books extensively or are looking for say coding examples, a lot of the time you may have several pages open in several different books at the same time. On a laptop browser that is manageable. A real physical set of books is also manageable if inconventient. But on a reader with the screen
  • Tablet PC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kamineko (851857) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @07:29PM (#23513080)
    I prefer a decent tablet PC (yes! Running Linux!) for reading documents. A tablet PC in a Wifi hotspot is great for grabbing stuff off the Sub-Etha.

    'Course, being a miser and a logical git, it's all down to TPCs being considerably cheaper than most ebook gadgets, and having a lot more functionality.

    Once there's an ebook reader that costs the same as a decent TPC and can do the same things as a TPC, then I'll be happy. So happy in fact that I'll politely refuse to buy it, because TPCs will also have become better by then.

    ebook readers need to become really, really good really fast before cheap consumer TPCs become 'cool' for families and start appearing in the shelves next to the eee PCs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by proxima (165692)

      'Course, being a miser and a logical git, it's all down to TPCs being considerably cheaper than most ebook gadgets, and having a lot more functionality.
      Once there's an ebook reader that costs the same as a decent TPC and can do the same things as a TPC, then I'll be happy. So happy in fact that I'll politely refuse to buy it, because TPCs will also have become better by then.

      I agree that at this point tablets look like a better bang for the buck, at least for me. These ebooks though blow away table

      • Buy them used (or ebay). I just bought an iRex Iliad for $431. There is an ebay seller (rkgarinc) that has a large amount of new first generation iLiads to sell (around $535). You can also try the mobileread forums, which is where I found mine.

        I love mine, even though I already have a Fujitsu T4215 tablet pc. The two devices serve different needs and usage profiles.
    • by priegog (1291820)
      Agreed. Last month I got off ebay a Motion Computing M1300. With a new battery and all it was all a little over $200. A little extra ram, an Ubuntu installation later, and bam, this thing blows all of them right out of the water. Except for the nice screen and the battery of course, but that's to be expected. I am not tied to some proprietary system to sync it up, and am able to browse the web with whatever browser I choose. I too used palms as e-book readers back in the day, so this is really an improvemen
  • My (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ubergoober (151136) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:18PM (#23513964)
    Got to fiddle with an Iliad at the last tradeshow I visited. Looked like an Ikea cardboard computer, seemed about as functional. Honestly thought it was a mock-up until it finally managed to display a new page. Would rather gnaw my arm off than attempt to browse a cached wikipedia on that thing.

    Best of luck to the early adopters willing to shell out. The world needs guinea pigs too.
  • Really. I've had my eyes on this one for quite some time. I'm a PhD student, and I usually carry around at least two thick and heavy books with me depending on the subject I'm working on. A huge pile of books are scattered around my home, in the office where I work part time and in my car. It is quite usual that I have to go back to some books for reference and check for something. It is needless to mention the large amount of papers I have to read (but I've mentioned it anyways).
    This is a scenario where I
    • I too would like an iRex for similar type things, but the one problem that I have seen is that how many of the books you have laying around have electronic versions to put on it?

      I have a bunch of books that I would like to read on something like this, but I have had near 0% success rate in finding electronic versions of them.
  • by Yeti7226 (473207) <arjen@kmphs.com> on Friday May 23, 2008 @05:02AM (#23515320)
    I own an iRex and this is very cool. Problem with the compactflash cards is that is significantly drains the battery. The SD slot does not take anything over 1 Gig. Hopefully this wil be corrected in a next version.
  • I have an iPhone and don't necessary need e-ink to read something less than 30 minutes. this [google.com] is sufficient for my purpose.
  • A Kindle competitor for only double the price! I'm no economics expert, but isn't this counter to the effect competition is supposed to have on prices? Add more competitors, and prices go up -- is this why I see so many gas stations?
  • But couldn't they have come up with a more laborious name for the product? I mean, iRex Iliad e-ink e-book reader is great and all, but couldn't they have called it the iRex iLiad aMazing iNcredible iRreplacable e-ink e-page e-printed e-book reader?


  • Why can I never go to the store and check something like this out and decide on if I want to buy it. From everything I've read about it, I most likely would.
  • Check out Wiki2Touch [google.com], an offline Wikipedia reader for a Jailbroken iPhone/iPod Touch. It too requires a download and some processing of a 3GB+ file, however, the results are simply stunning. It leverages the iPhone's Safari browser, so you can bookmark articles, etc. It's truly amazing to be able to have instant access to encyclopedic articles. You have over 20,000,000 articles at your fingertips.

    And to those who complain that it isn't online and up-to-date, really, who cares? Remember what this is: It's an

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