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Kobo unveils Wi-Fi Touch Edition e-reader for $129.99

Fresh off raising $50 million, Kobo has announced a new touch-screen e-ink e-reader, the $129.99 Kobo Wi-Fi Touch Edition.

The $129.99 Kobo eReader Touch Edition will ship in June and comes in multiple color choices. David Carnoy/CNET

The day before Barnes & Noble is expected to announce a new e-ink e-reader, Kobo unveiled its own new e-ink model, the Kobo WiFi Touch Edition, for $129.99.

As its name implies, the new e-reader has a touch screen and uses the same Neonode infrared technology that's found in Sony's touch-screen e-readers. It also has E-Ink's latest generation Pearl e-ink screen.

Here's a look at the key specs:

  • Touch screen with Neonode "responsive" zForce infrared touch technology (Kobo is calling it "Real Touch")
  • 6-inch Pearl e-ink screen (same screen as Kindle's e-ink screen)
  • Wi-Fi wireless connectivity (802.11 b/g/n)
  • 1 GB of onboard storage
  • Freescale i.MX508
  • MicroSD card expansion slot (add up to 32GB card)
  • Battery charge lasts up to two weeks
  • Supports ePub, PDF, Adobe DRM
  • Dimensions: 6.5 x 4.5 x .39 inches
  • Weight: 7.05 ounces (200g)
  • Comes in black (with black back) and white (with lilac, blue, or white back)
  • Multiple languages available (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Dutch)
  • Price: $129.99 (comes with $10 Kobo gift card)
  • Ships in June (available for preorder now)

I got a chance to play around with a prototype for the new device and found it to be very similar to Sony's PRS-650 Touch Edition e-reader, with a nice responsive touch screen. However, when I suggested that I expected a little more (speed-wise) from the new Freescale i.MX508 that powers this e-reader, I was told by Kobo reps that they were still optimizing the device.

The 'quilted' backs come in multiple colors. Kobo

That said, the Kobo Touch Edition has a compact, elegant design, with only a couple of buttons (since this is a touch-screen e-reader, there's a built-in virtual keyboard). I didn't see a Web browser and like other Kobo e-readers, the device seems very reading-centric. It's also geared to the international market, with Kobo making a push into several countries, most notably Germany, which has the fastest growing e-book market outside the U.S.

It will be interesting to see what Barnes & Noble unveils tomorrow, but we may see a very similar touch-screen Nook at a very similar price point. We also expect Amazon to move to a touch screen for its next-generation e-ink Kindle e-reader, perhaps as soon as this fall.

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