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Pandigital WikiReader

The whole of the English-language Wikipedia is stored within in the svelte confines of Pandigital's WikiReader ($69.99), a small white square of a device that lets users call up more than three million unique entries from the famed online, user-made encyclopedia on its small, monochrome, digital watch-like touch display.

Of course, since it's not connected to the Web users will miss out on the changes made to this living body of knowledge every day. I looked up Toronto mayor-elect Rob Ford and his entry stated that he had just announced his candidacy for Toronto's top post.

However, quarterly updates are made available from the company's website. All one need do is download and transfer the new files to the WikiReader's 4GB microSD card. You can also choose to add new wikis and support for other languages while you're at it.

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Of the three buttons below its display - one to call up a search box, another to access a history of previously searched topics, and a third that will call up a random entry - the last one gives away what the WikiReader really is; a toy. After all, we can search the up-to-date live Wikipedia whenever we like on our laptops or phones, making it unlikely most of us would ever turn to it when in real need of information.

But it has a valid use. Pandigital's device is at its best when you pick it up absentmindedly while on a conference call, pressing that random button and then musing over the often odd entries it returns, like a Darwinian puzzle (a trait that appears to reduce the fitness of individuals that possess it - kind of like my penchant for KFC's Double Down) and the winners of the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards.

So it's basically a knick knack for desks. If you're feeling a little generous, it might make for a fine Secret Santa gift for one of your coworkers. Just make sure to tell the recipient to leave it on his or her desk so you can play with it occasionally, too.

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About the Author
Game and Gadget Reporter

Chad Sapieha has been writing about video games and consumer gadgets for the Globe and Mail since 2003. His work has been published in magazines, newspapers, and Web sites across North America, and he has appeared as an expert on television and radio newscasts. More

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