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iPedia 1.0

Fri Jul 30, 2004 - 8:05 PM EDT - By Michael Ducker

ArsLexis, makers of the popular Palm OS dictionary application iNoah, today released iPedia 1.0. iPedia 1.0 is a wirelessly enabled encyclopedia with more than 300,000 entries. Instead of using a massive amount of space on the Treo's internal memory or an extranal SD card like other programs, iPedia uses the Treo's wireless internet connection to find and view encyclopedia articles. iPedia supports the five way navigator on the Treo and standard features such as copy and past. It is available now for $29.95.

The content for iPedia comes from the three year old Wikipedia project. Wikipedia is a community edited encyclopedia that has enjoyed much success. It is constantly being updated by its users, so that it almost alwyas up to date. They even have an entry for the Treo 600, that features TreoCentral as "Everything you wanted to know about the Treo 600".

One may question the $30 price for iPedia 1.0, as Wikipedia is available for free through the built in Treo 600 web browser. I asked Krzysztof Kowalczyk of ArsLexis to that comment.

"We believe that people will pay for better speed, convenience, quality and that elusive feel of using a well designed application. iPedia, being a native, high-quality Palm application simply offers much better and much faster access to this information than what you can get through Blazer.

Frankly, at this point reading WikiPedia through Blazer (or any web browser for PDAs) is next to unusable so today there's really no question that iPedia is much better. It is possible to provide a better web front-end, but even then iPedia will have significant advantage. iPedia will always be faster to use. Instead of sending html we're sending data in our optimized format. We haven't done formal comparisons but I estimate this is at least 2-3x less trafic. That makes data transfer 2-3x faster and, for those who don't have unlimited data plans, is 2-3x cheaper.

But don't take my word for it. Lookup a long article both in iPedia and on using Blazer e.g. "november 2003". We send about 100kB (it's one of the bigest articles on WikiPedia). Blazer reads about 205 kB and simply gives up saying that the page is too large to be displayed. Our display is optimized for Palm screen (compare that to what Blazer shows). We fully support one-handed operations on Treo, scrolling of the text using 5-way nav etc. Our "Extended search" and "random article" functionality is simply unavailable throug web front end.

We believe that in spirit we do exactly the same thing as hugely popular Mac application Watson i.e. provide a much better access to information that is freely available on the web. We provide a much better user experience for accessing encyclopedia data than what Blazer can do. "

ArxLexis has a full page of Usage Scenarios showing screenshots of different queries. They also have an FAQ, that explains their use of wikipedia.

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