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Cool-er e-book reader review: Cool-er e-book reader

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MSRP: $250.00

The Good Lightweight; comes in eight color choices; 1GB of internal memory with an SD card expansion slot that allows you to add up to 4GB of additional memory; battery is removable and replaceable; decent battery life; accepts JPEG, PDF, EPUB, TXT, and MP3 file formats.

The Bad Feels a bit too much like a "budget" e-reader; drag-and-drop e-book loading less convenient than Kindle's instant downloads; buttons are stiff and aren't intuitively labeled; interface lacks polish; navigation is a bit cumbersome; slow screen refresh when flipping pages; nonstandard 2.5mm headphone jack.

The Bottom Line The Cool-er e-book reader has some nice pluses and costs less than the Kindle, but it's not as big a bargain as we hoped it would be.

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4.3 Overall
  • Design 4
  • Features 4
  • Performance 5

Review Sections

Editors' Note: The rating of this reader has been lowered since its initial publication to reflect changes in the marketplace. Also, as of July 8, 2010, Interead (the distributor of this product) is no longer taking orders.

In the U.S., the Amazon Kindle remains the most popular and best-known e-reader on the market. But not everyone's ready to pay $360 for the device, and the Kindle doesn't appeal to international readers because its wireless capabilities don't work overseas. And that's where upstart digital readers like Interead's Cool-er come in.

The product's name was inspired by the concept of a "cool e-reader" and it's the first consumer electronics product from Interead, which has offices in the U.K. and New York and also has a companion online e-book store to support the device. The Cool-er's claim to fame is that it's lighter, less expensive ($250), more colorful (it comes in eight colors), and more "open" than the Kindle, accepting a wider variety of file formats, much like Sony's e-readers do.

On many levels, including screen size and readability, the Cool-er matches the Kindle 2, and even beats it in terms of memory expansion--there's an SD slot--and we appreciated that the battery is removable and replaceable (Interead will send you a replacement battery for $5).

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 grayscale 8
Type E-Ink Vizplex
Touch screen No
Operating system Linux
Storage 1GB
Processor Samsung S3C2440 ARM 400MHz
Battery Lithium polymer battery (1,000 mAh)
Battery life (single charge) 8,000 pages
Memory expansion SD (up to 4GB)
Wireless No
File 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. To get a book or file onto the device, you simple connect it to your computer via USB and drag and drop files to the Cool-er as you would any mass USB storage device.

As we said, one of the big advantages to the Cool-er is that its supports PDF, EPUB books (the Interead bookstore is stocked with e-books in the EPUB format), and text files, and there's plenty of free e-books out there in these file formats. As for PDF viewing, there's no zoom button per se, but switching from vertical to horizontal mode crops sometimes enlarges the PDF, so it has a pseudo zoom feature. (We liked that you could rotate the screen with a touch of a button.)

However, as you might have gathered, the Cool-er does not accept Kindle books downloaded from Amazon. (Books you buy in the Interead store can be read on up to four devices, so you can virtually pass a book around after you read it. Amazon's sharing policy is more restrictive.)

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