Borders unveils updated Kobo eReader with Wi-Fi

The new Kobo eReader has an improved screen, built-in Wi-Fi, a faster processor, and longer battery life. It ships at the end of October and costs $139.99.

Kobo Wireless eReader
The Wi-Fi-enabled Kobo Reader will retail for $139.99 and comes in three colors. Kobo

When it was released a few months ago, the Kobo eReader was one of the first e-readers to sell for less than $150. Alas, it wasn't all that great and it was quickly overshadowed when Barnes & Noble introduced its Wi-Fi Nook for $149 and Amazon later followed with an all-new $139 Wi-Fi Kindle. But now Kobo and Borders, which is an investor in Kobo (Kobo powers Borders' e-book store), are set to release a new, improved wireless Kobo eReader this October for $139.99.

On the outside, the new model looks almost identical to the older model, but it has a better screen, a faster processor, and offers longer battery life. While the screen is a definite step-up, it doesn't appear that it's E-Ink's next-generation Pearl display that's currently featured in the Kindle and new Sony Readers.

Here are the key specs:

  • Price: $139.99
  • 6-inch screen
  • Weighs 7 ounces
  • Built in Wi-Fi (802.11g)
  • Faster processor makes turning pages over 2.5x times faster
  • Sharper E-Ink screen (16-grayscale)
  • Longer battery life: up to 10,000 page turns on a single charge (with the wireless setting turned off)
  • 1GB of built-in memory stores up to 1,000 eBooks
  • Expansion slot for SD card (store up to 5,000 eBooks)
  • Built-in dictionary
  • Available in three colors (black, silver, and lavender)
  • Support for ePub and PDF files
  • 100 free classics and Poker game preloaded onto device
  • Ships at the end of October (available for preorder now).

While we feel bad for anyone who bought the original Kobo (we gave it a very lukewarm review ), we're glad to see that Kobo has quickly moved past its initial effort and come out with hardware that appears to match up better with the competition. Like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Kobo/Borders offers apps for multiple platforms, including the iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones, and PCs, so you can access your digital library on a variety of devices. Recently, Kobo also announced that new applications that will come preloaded on the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab and Blackberry PlayBook.

That's all good, but at the same time, the new wireless Kobo eReader doesn't seem to have any clear advantages over the Kindle or Nook, so it faces a challenging market. Of course, we'll reserve final judgment until we get our hands on a review unit in the next few weeks.

Note: Canadian shoppers can preorder the Kobo eReader at Kobobooks.com or at Indigo Books and Music.

Read the full CNET Review

Barnes & Noble Nook (Wi-Fi)

The Bottom Line: The Nook Wi-Fi doesn't quite measure up to the Kindle in terms of design and overall performance, but it's a worthy alternative if you're looking for a more open e-reader that supports the EPUB format. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

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Amazon Kindle Keyboard (Wi-Fi, graphite)

The Bottom Line: The third-generation Kindle's winning combination of noteworthy upgrades--an improved screen, better battery life, lighter weight, and lower price--vaults it to the top of the e-book reader category. / Read full review

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Kobo eReader

The Bottom Line: The Kobo eReader isn't a bad little basic e-book reader, but it's just not a compelling deal now that the more full-featured Barnes & Noble Nook has matched its low price. / Read full review

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Apple iPad (64GB)

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About the author

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music and The Big Exit. Both titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, and Nook e-books.

 

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