Kobo: Pretty, Cheap, “Kindle Killer”?

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America’s second-largest bookstore chain is getting into the e-reader biz. Borders’ Kobo device will begin shipping June 17 to coincide with Father’s Day in America. Borders is now accepting pre-orders for the $150 e-reader, vying for share of the virtual book marketplace with Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. 

Two factors distinguish Kobo from its competition. On the up side, it boasts an affordable price tag. On the down side: no Wi-Fi or 3G wireless connectivity. There is, however, a Bluetooth connection for remotely syncing with (select) smartphones and updating Kobo-owners’ reading lists wirelessly.

Borders is simultaneously entering the digital world with the Kobo device and a virtual ebook store which will feature one million apps for Android, Blackberry, and iPhone/iPads. The Kobo eReader has been touted as “the real Kindle killer” by Wired Magazine.

It’s a no-frills product, to be sure.[more]

Kobo features 1GB of internal memory, SD card expansion slot, 6-inch e-ink display (like the $259 Kindle and Nook). Its closest competitor in terms of price is Sony’s PRS-300 Pocket Reader, which can be found for as low as $149 online.

“We are giving consumers the flexibility to read the content they want on a variety of devices of their choosing,” Borders head Mike Edwards told TechCrunch.

Pre-loaded with 100 titles and a reasonable online library, the loudest complaint is slow performance upon opening and closing books. Engadget doesn’t mind, praising Kobo for putting “a pretty and intuitive face on simple book reading for a pretty lovable price.”

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