Earlier this month, Borders announced that they were taking pre-orders for their new Kobo eReader that are slated to ship on June 17th just in time for Father’s Day. This is the latest addition to an increasingly expanding e-reader market, and Borders’ attempt to catch up with fellow bookstore chain Barnes and Noble.
The Kobo features the same E ink display technology used by the Nook and Kindle. The 6-inch display screen is nothing particularly spectacular and neither is the minimalistic blue D-pad in the bottom right hand corner. The back side of the devices features a quilted design to offer a good, comfortable grip. The device is 10 mm thick and weighs only 221 grams, further adding to user comfort and portability. It comes with 100 pre-loaded books and 1 GB of internal memory which is capable of storing up to 1000 e-books at any time. If this isn’t enough space, avid readers can pop in a SD memory card up to 4 GB in capacity to store as many as 4,000 eBooks.
What really sets the Kobo eReader apart from its competitors is its price tag. At only $149.99, this is the cheapest eReader backed by a big brand to date. This low price does have its consequences: the Kobo does not feature 3G, or even WiFi. Unlike the B&N Nook and Amazon Kindle that support over-the-air downloads, the only way to download content onto the Kobo is by connecting it to a desktop or laptop via a mini USB port and using the included Sync N’ Read software. It also only offers 8 shades of grey on its display, as opposed to the 16 offered by the Nook and Kindle. Ultimately, though, this doesn’t change the fact that the Kobo is $100 cheaper than its competitors while still including the same basic functions and features. Although I don’t want to speculate, it stands to reason that this might be something that many consumers will find appealing. While this isn’t the most innovative addition to the eReader market, it will put pressure on pricey existing models. I would not be surprised if the Borders Kobo eReader led to the release of new, cheaper versions of the Nook and Kindle, something that consumers hoping for.