Review: Mopedi and Mopedi Places


Wikipedia is a wonderful thing. It is the culmination of human knowledge presented online for anyone to contribute to. Well, not quite, I don't want to raise the academics' blood pressure too much! While Wikipedia is a comprehensive resource, it's only as accessible as your Internet connection allows, unless you regularly download the entire database. Thanks to Mopedi, you can do just that on your Symbian device. For travellers, there's Mopedi Places too, with curated databases for specific parts of the world. Read on for a look at both.

Author: MPaja

Version Reviewed: 2.00(7)

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The main user interface of Mopedi

You may recognise the user interface of Mopedi from our review of WikiQuotes. That's because it is essentially the same application, by the same person, wrapped around a different set of data, in this case Wikipedia. The general user interface is very simple. A search box sits above six huge buttons. The first button brings up a list of your bookmarks and history, each on their own tab. The second brings up a list of articles that are about locations close to you. It determines this by calculating your position based on cell tower location. The third button is the random article list, which I was pleased to see in the WikiQuotes application too. The next three buttons are for settings, help and exit.

Mopedi's bookmark and history lists

The images and text in each Wikipedia article are presented in a mobile friendly format. However, just as I complained about in the WikiQuotes review, there's no interactive zoom. To change the font size you have to go into the application settings and adjust a slider. Admittedly, you can see the size of some sample text changing. However, this is a poor substitute for resizing text on the fly.

Image and text in Mopedi

Mopedi is one of a few new applications which features its own custom QWERTY keyboard, in portrait and landscape mode. At the time of writing, we're still waiting for Symbian Anna to arrive, which will introduce the official portrait QWERTY keyboard. Hence, one can understand that developers have been impatient and decided to implement their own. However, this also means that users have to get to used to a slightly different keyboard for every application. Certainly not a good state of affairs!

Mopedi's portrait QWERTY keyboard

When copying text for quotes, the text selection is still as difficult to use as it was in WikiQuotes (remember, it's basically the same application). As I said last time:

“Wikiquotes has poorly implemented text selection functionality. After repeated tries, I couldn't master the knack of reliably selecting text. It seemed that double tapping a word would select it, but upon releasing, a word on the line below would be selected. Neither could I find a way of extending the selection to a sentence; I did, however, manage to select a paragraph, without knowing how. Perhaps I was missing something, but selecting text shouldn't be THAT hard!”

Mopedi Places

Two examples of places in my area on the British Isles edition of Mopedi Places

Mopedi Places is a set of spin off applications, based on Mopedi. The difference is that the developer has curated Wikipedia entries based on specific countries. For example, you can buy Mopedi Places for the British Isles, France, Span, Canada, etc. This is a good sales pitch, as it effectively offers a travel guide for specific countries. However, while Mopedi (in theory) links locations to Ovi Maps, this feature wasn't present in the British Isles version I purchased for the review. Nor was the Ovi Maps feature in the demo version of Mopedi.

Mopedi in the author's own words

The other aspect of any of the Mopedi Places guides is that they obviously require less storage space on your device. While the full Wikipedia database is an eye watering 4GB download, the place guides are a hundredth of that, which makes for quicker downloads, and less of a storage burden.

Which takes us neatly onto the subject of ...

Loading the databases

All of the Mopedi databases (including WikiQuotes) can be downloaded from the developer's website. Doing this manually might be too much for novice users. There is a guide on the developer's website which explains how to download the databases and transfer them to the memory card of your phone. However, this requires a conscientious user to dig into the help page and follow all the steps. The specialised (smaller) Wiki applications (Quotes and Places) have the option of downloading within the application. For example, the British Isles guide I looked at for this review downloaded its database automatically, and took about 40 minutes to complete.

For Mopedi (the full Wikipedia reader), the initial download is 33.9MB from the Ovi Store, and then you download the 4897MB (yes, 4.8GB) database from the developer's website.

The British Isles edition of Mopedi Places downloading its database

Weighing the costs

The main Mopedi application costs £8.00 in the Ovi Store, which is expensive by any measure. The place guides cost £3.00 to £4.00 each. However, the author's website states that Mopedi can read all databases. Therefore, you need to carefully consider if you'll need more than two of the place guides. If so, you should buy the full Mopedi Wikipedia reader.

Generally, I find the user experience of Wikipedia's own mobile website (in any phone browser) to be better than reading and searching within Mopedi. Therefore, I find it hard to justify that high cost. The only circumstances I can think of where Mopedi makes sense is if you know you will absolutely need access to the whole of Wikipedia and will be in a part of the world where mobile data isn't available or is prohibitively expensive. That must be a very small niche market.


If Mopedi added something more to the whole Wikipedia experience, then I'd be happier about recommending it. However, given the rather basic user interface and the small likelyhood of needing offline access, I find it hard to justify the cost. Having said that, Mopedi and its sister applications are unique in the Symbian world.

If you absolutely need offline access to Wikipedia's wealth of knowledge on your Symbian device, Mopedi is your only choice.

Qualified recommendation.

David Gilson for All About Symbian, 6th June 2011.

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