Just a brief post, as I thought it was important to highlight the new Kobo eReader. For those of you looking to make the jump to e-books, this device looks like it will make an excellent starting point. There is a good review over on Electronista, but the summary is that the Kobo eReader does a fine job at reading books, has a nice e-Ink screen and great battery life, and is a good value at just $149. The fact that it uses a simple interface and doesn’t have wireless or other features can actually be a good thing — as it makes it easier to simply focus on one thing: reading books.
Another point to note: the eReader comes with 100 free e-books pre-loaded onto the device. While those titles are all public domain, and thus freely available elsewhere, I think it’s a great idea by Kobo: it makes the eReader seem like a better deal (that’s like paying $1.49 per book and getting the eReader for free), and also makes it blindingly simple for a buyer to start reading right away.
A few tech specs:
- 6″ e-Ink screen (easy on the eyes, great in sunlight, 2-week battery life)
- 1 GB internal storage (holds about 1,000 e-books)
- USB connection (connect it to your computer and drag & drop files onto it)
- Only currently reads ePub and PDF formats
- Bluetooth built in
While you can get a cheaper $99 Delstar OpenBook or a more expensive $259 Kindle 2 (both of which I discuss here), the Delstar uses an LCD screen, not the easy-on-the-eyes e-Ink screen that most e-readers use. The Kindle is a better e-reader, has wireless access, a built-in dictionary, and uses Amazon, but it does cost over $100 more.
It’s good to see more and more devices emerging at lower and lower price points. The Kobo will be sold at Borders stores and can be filled with e-books from Borders’ upcoming e-book store (see Update 2, below).
One other quick point: there are rumors that the Kindle 2 will soon be available at Target and Best Buy retail stores and the Nook will be available through Best Buy (in addition to Barnes & Noble). I think it’s a great idea, since these devices have a “wow” factor and most people who try them out will be impressed. While Amazon allows a 30-day trial period (with no-questions-asked returns) on the K2, it’s still much easier to play with one at Target than order one from Amazon and maybe return it.
UPDATE: Kindle at Target confirmed, on Apr 25.
UPDATE 2: The Kobo eReader is available for pre-order from Borders, shipping June 17. It should also be arriving in Borders stores in August. Borders is planning an online e-book store for June as well.
UPDATE 3: Kobo reduced the price of its e-reader to just $129, but compared to the $139 Kindle 3 Wi-Fi, I don’t think the small price advantage justifies passing up the Kindle 3’s more impressive specs and features.