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New Cool-er kid on the e-reader block

Interead's Cool-er e-reader was supposed to launch in a couple of weeks, but some bloggers in the U.K. decided to post something on the new device a little early. It's chief selling point: the Cool-er costs more than $100 less than the Kindle 2.

The Cool-er e-book reader comes in eight colors.

When I talked to Interead's CEO and founder Neil Jones a few months ago, he told me his upstart U.K. company was getting ready to launch a new lightweight e-book reader that he was hoping would get some attention in the marketplace for sharply undercutting the price of the Kindle 2. He was going to call the thing the Cool-er, and it would cost $250 and tie into Interead's fledgling e-book store.

Jones was planning a very controlled launch for the product, with a target date set for just before Memorial Day here in the the U.S. and additional promotion in the U.K.

Well, things didn't go off exactly as planned, with some bloggers in the U.K. apparently breaking an embargo. But it didn't exactly help that the company already had its Web site up promoting the new product (a PR rep said certain journalists were questioning whether the company was real or not, so they had to put up the site).

In any case, the new Cool-er digital reader, which comes in eight colors, is now rapidly making its way through the blogosphere, so Jones is getting what he wants, albeit in a rather uncontrolled way (which sometimes is the way to go for launches). It will "officially" be available May 29, but Interead is taking preorders.

Here are its specs:

  • Dimensions: 7.2 inches by 4.6 inches by .43 inches (HWD)
  • Weight: 6.2 ounces
  • Screen size: 6 inches
  • DPI: 170 pixels per inch
  • Levels of greyscale: 8
  • Type: E Ink Vizplex
  • Touch screen: No
  • Manufacturer: PVI
  • Operating system: Linux
  • Storage: 1GB
  • Memory: 128MB (internal)
  • Processor: Samsung S3C2440 ARM 400MHz
  • Battery: Li-Polymer battery (1000 mAh)
  • Battery Life (single charge): 8,000 pages
  • Memory Expansion: SD (up to 4GB)
  • Wireless: No
  • Formats: JPEG, PDF, EPUB, TXT, MP3 (2.5mm headphone jack with a 3.5mm converter included for standard headphones)
  • Languages: 8
  • Bookstore (titles): more than 750,000

The Cool-er is compatible with Macs and Windows PCs. While we're not sure Interead's new e-book reader will make a huge dent in Kindle 2 sales here in the U.S., it is designed to be more open with its formats and should compete nicely with Sony's Readers, especially in Europe.

We should get a review sample shortly and will let you know our full thoughts after we put the Cool-er--and the CoolerBooks e-book store--through their paces. As always, feel free to comment and let us know whether you think this e-book is a contender--or a pretender.