Kobo, the company that already delivers eBooks on a variety of platforms, including the iPhone, has released their own eReader device. While it’s not the most feature-packed gadget, lacking 3G for example, its approach focuses on experience and offers some unique design choices to provide a compelling one.
Its tech specs are pretty standard with a 6″ e-ink display, USB connectivity, 1GB built-in memory, and an SD card slot. One notable exception is Bluetooth connectivity, which allows it to sync reading lists with smartphones. Controls are kept simple with just a D-pad on the face and four buttons on the left side. And instead of a smooth plastic backing, it features quilted rubber to help the reader keep a grip and to keep it from sliding off surfaces. They also offer a variety of skins for the front, including ones emblazoned with popular quotes and ones made of book cloth for a real book texture. Their approach clearly targets book readers, not gadget lovers, though there’s no shortage of folks who are both.
Kobo, which made a big splash a few months back by partnering with Borders, already offers more than 2M books, including bestsellers at $9.99, and they include 100 eBooks pre-loaded on their eReader. Adding an eReader to their offerings is a good step forward for them. I especially appreciate that they’ve mentioned manga in their offerings. I don’t want to read American comic books on a grayscale eReader, but it’s perfect for standard pocket-sized, black & white manga. Wired’s Gadget Lab puts the price at $150, but Kobo still lists it as “TBC”. $150 would definitely be a great price point, but even $200 should be competitive.